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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Google Gadget Ads are a Shiny Diversion

Google Gadget Ads are a shiny diversion. There. I've said it. As a former software developer, I must admit I'm intrigued by these new gadget ads. Nonetheless, they're a diversion for these 2 reasons:
  1. They divert advertisers attention from the true power of AdWords - search advertising.
  2. They divert AdWords developers attention from completing the AdWords features advertisers need.
Let me start with #2. Google recently launched some new report types for AdWords: the placement performance report and the search query performance report. These are both excellent new reports, and it's great that Google made them available for AdWords advertisers. However, these new reports are incomplete. I'd like to see Google developers finish the functionality that advertisers are asking for before jumping to shiny new diversions like Google Gadget Ads or AdSense for Mobile.

For example, take a look at this screenshot, excerpted from an actual placement performance report:

domains ads on placement performance report

Can you see what's wrong with that picture? Are most advertisers going to know what Domain ads are? Aggregating all AdSense for Domains clicks and calling them "Domain ads" defeats the purpose of the placement performance report. Advertisers need to know which actual domains, including parked domains, their ads are displayed on. For a company whose corporate mission is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful" it seems rather hypocritical that they'd choose to omit this information from crucial reports. Advertisers should know what clicks they're paying for and where their ads are being placed. Does Google have something to hide?

Incidentally, noting that MySpace ads and Domain ads drove the most clicks in this particular example, it's interesting that Google has created AdWords help pages specifically for these distribution partners:
So, I'm not saying Google Gadget Ads aren't cool. I'm just saying that I'd like to see the AdWords development team finish features they've partially implemented before moving on to flashier projects. Since advertisers are collectively funding 99% of Google's revenue, is that too much to ask? ;-)

Regarding point #1, when something like this creeps its way into the search advertising side of AdWords, I'll pay attention. Yes, contextual advertising can be effective. However, having managed AdWords campaigns since 2002, I've found search advertising to be much, much, much, much more effective. For that reason, I've long been an advocate of splitting search advertising from contextual advertising within an AdWords account. The new Google Gadget Ads only run on the content network (contextual advertising). From the press release:
Gadget ads can incorporate real-time data feeds, images, video and much more in a single creative unit and can be developed using Flash, HTML or a combination of both. Designed to act more like content than a typical ad, they run on the Googleâ„¢ content network, competing alongside text, image and video ads for placement. They support both cost-per-click and cost-per-impression pricing models, and offer a variety of contextual, site, geographic and demographic targeting options to ensure the ads reach relevant users with precision and scale. Gadget ads are also built on an open platform, allowing anybody from individual advertisers to agencies to set up and run ads on the Google content network, the world's largest global online ad network.
One of the examples they showcase states that "0.3% of those exposed to the ad interacted with it." What does that mean? I'd like to know about clicks more so than interactions. What was the CTR? Perhaps 0.03%? Search advertising CTRs are orders of magnitude greater than that. Yeah, for now, I'm calling Google Gadget Ads a shiny diversion.

If you want to know more about them, though, cutting through the clutter of Google Gadget Ads news via Techmeme, these guys have some fantastic insights: Niall Kennedy, Andrew Goodman and John Battelle.

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