Last week Google announced that they are beginning to integrate banner ads into their AdWords / AdSense contextual advertising “network.” The banner integration was seen by some as being a step back to the past, where banner ads were the wallet builder for many web sites. However, recent web marketing trends have led to the widened acceptance of keyword targeted text ads.
Google feels that in some cases image ads which are targeted to page content in the same fashion as AdWords/ AdSense text ads are will produce. In a statement issued by Google “Google image ads are matched to a webpage’s content by the same proven targeting technology that drives AdWords text ads. Because of this targeting, image ads are highly pertinent to the interests of a person browsing a particular content site.”
Sounds like an interesting plan from Google. However, it is dependent on one large variable, the willingness of Google AdWords network sites and perhaps more importantly, AdSense publishing webmasters to allow such image based banner advertisements to be shown on their site. AdSense publishers must manually log in to their AdSense account and give Google permission to run banner ads on their site, using the ad code which traditionally delivers text only AdWords links.
According to a poll of sixty eight active webmasters on SitePoint’s Forums, webmasters seem quite open to serving Google banners. When web publishers were asked “Will You Run Google AdSense Image Ads on Your Site?”, 69% responded favorably. 31% of webmasters responded “Of course, I’m very interested,” while 38% responded with a “Perhaps, need to see their earnings and targeting.”
15% of respondents were not sure on their opinion of running Google AdSense banner ads, while 16% responded with a “No way, I’m pure text and link!”
With Google’s success of Adwords / AdSense banner ads riding on the acceptance of web publishers, these preliminary numbers are a good sign for Google.
Tim Armstrong, vice president of Google’s advertising sales commented on the new leap of faith to CNet. “The noise in the advertising market is really going up over ROI (return on investment),” he said. “There was a pretty clear signal from advertisers that there is an opportunity to use Google’s relevance technology for images as well as text. Over the last 14 months, we’ve been able to grow a network of content publishers (that use AdSense), and the message was to make it more useful.” The image ads will be limited to 50KB–much larger than the typical 1KB to 2KB used by text-only ads. Google also said that they will ensure that the images have a minimal effect on load time for most sites.