Google Goal: Collect All Advertiser Assets in Display Domination

If Google has its way, all the world’s ads will belong to it. Speaking at the annual Bear Stearns Media Conference, the firm discussed its brand and display ad goals, revealing its hope to become a virtual warehouse for every advertiser’s ad assets.

“We have a long term horizon here which is we want every advertiser in the world to put all of their assets into our system,” said Tim Armstrong, Google’s president, advertising and commerce, North America. “That’s really what we’re focused on.”

For example, he explained, “For Johnson & Johnson, every time one of their assets or brands should be served, it’s there, available…and over time the system that we’re building doesn’t separate between search and display.”

Armstrong suggested Google’s “object-based approach” to ad management and serving would make such a system feasible. Essentially, the platform works by connecting ad objects to relevant content like search pages or video content.

The company has high hopes for grabbing a major chunk of the display ad market in the near future. “We would be disappointed in 2008 and 2009 if we don’t have a very significant presence in the display market,” said Armstrong.

He told the Palm Beach crowd he believes Google has always had the right components in place to be successful at search advertising. However, the pieces are just finally aligning when it comes to brand display ads, according to Armstrong, who believes the right customers, targeting and creative, inventory, and measurement capabilities all must be in place. At this point, he continued, Google has most of the top brand advertisers using its platform. In addition, its DoubleClick acquisition will provide the firm with “the right types of targeting and creative for the space.”

As for the right inventory, Armstrong cited YouTube, and stressed the Google-owned video site is the biggest key for display ad success and leveraging the DoubleClick buy. “Individually, YouTube alone is probably the brightest light in that space for the potential future of display advertising,” he suggested.

Still, YouTube has yet to take over the display or video ad world. Indeed, many brand advertisers find it risky to be associated with user-generated video. The site’s video overlay ad unit, however, could lead to branding opportunities, according to David Eun, Google VP’s of content partnerships. “The ad itself can be treated as video and shared and stored as a favorite.”

Display advertising is dominated by ad networks, a business Google rival Yahoo aims to rule. Yahoo has made strides in that arena, snapping up ad networks Blue Lithium and Right Media. It has also continually grown its newspaper publisher partner group, and begun testing its display ad platform on a handful of those paper sites as part of its mission to manage display ads for many of those publishers.

Some argue Microsoft’s recent bid for Yahoo is at least in part intended to shore up the ability for the two companies to compete in display advertising. Google currently runs keyword-targeted display ads in its AdSense publisher network, but the firm is still largely synonymous with text-based search ads rather than display.

Surely Google’s intention to serve as the world’s ad library could further alienate publishers concerned about Google’s mission to run all Web ads all the time. The revelation is also bound to elicit ire from those concerned that Google’s proposed acquisition of ad management firm DoubleClick will stifle competition in the industry.

When asked about Microsoft’s grab for Yahoo, Armstrong said, “I think competition is really good.” He added, “I think we have a short term opportunity which is based on those types of changes in the industry. I think it causes disruption and we have done a really good job over time of being very laser focused on customer ROI, down to how we have our sales force organized.”

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