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Beware: Google Selling Video Ads

Copyright 2006 Jim Edwards In a bold move, online advertising and search giant Google.com announced it will start selling online video ads this week to distribute across its partner network. Curiously, Google will reportedly not display the ads on their main site, Google.com. The company states that it's their effort to deliver richer content demanded by advertisers and consumers that drives this latest advertising venture. On the surface, it makes sense.

Video represents the hottest trend online right now and advertising revenue made Google the darling of Wall Street and restored investor confidence in viability of the Internet. But once you get beyond the euphoria of another Google success in the making, some serious questions need addressing before we all mortgage the house and pour the cash into Google stock. As I just stated, when Google starts displaying video ads, they will not play on their main portal site. The video ads will only display on partner sites most likely displaying AdSense. AdSense is the commission driven advertising distribution system the propelled Google to financial stardom.

When a partner site displays the AdSense code, Google pays a percentage of ad revenue to the site owner displaying the ads. Now it appears, those sites will also, at Google's option, display video ads. Actual details of how the program will work and how advertisers include their videos in the system or display them remains sparse. A search of the Google.com site, the AdSense.Google.com advertising section, and even the http://www.google.com/press/ site yielded very few clues to the actual inner-workings of the new video ads. But, over the next few weeks, I'm sure the details of the program will become apparent to all.

Despite the excitement over the video ad buzz, I have two very real concerns about how video advertisement will play out with this new system. First, the fact that Google.com will reportedly not display the video ads on their own site really bothers me. Why would they do this? If the advertising method means such a boon to advertisers, why wouldn't they exploit it on their own site? The answer: despite all their testing on Video.Google.com, they don't know how video ads will play out. Rather than experiment on their main "cash cow" site at Google.com, they want to work out the kinks on other people's sites. If you ask me, that's not a very nice way to treat the people who made you multi-billionaires. Second, considering the fact that most advertisers who choose to use video will simply play regurgitated TV commercials, video ads on Google will debut with mixed results.

Why? Because standard TV commercials don't wok for producing measurable results that online advertisers can track. A whole new world of direct-response video advertising must emerge for advertisers to successfully exploit this new opportunity. The real winners at the start of this expansion in video advertising will be the businesses with products that sell best when people can see a demonstration or before and after pictures. These require the least skill in direct-response copywriting and create the most impact when viewed by potential customers.


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