Google Lowers Bar to Video Overlay Ads

Google is every bit as eager as Hulu or Tremor for brand advertisers to embrace online video. But while it waits, the company has been pushing video ad units to another set of marketers entirely: small businesses with AdWords accounts. The key example last year was Promoted Videos, a search ad format used by legions of advertisers to drive views of their YouTube content. But it continues to branch out to other formats.

Today the company unveiled a new video option for small marketers, adding new ad templates for its InVideo overlay ads.

InVideo ads are an animated banner format YouTube launched in 2007. They typically appear part way through a selected video and disappear after a number of seconds if the ad is not clicked. The overlays are among Google’s most effective formats, with average click-through rates eight to 10 times higher than normal display ads, the company said.

The new templates allow advertisers to create basic overlay ads and companion banners. These will appear mainly on YouTube, but can also be matched to videos in the Google Content Network. Ads are targeted based on various content criteria, including video-by-video placement; advertisers decide whether they want to bid on a cost-per-click or CPM basis.

In one example, a company called Cinemin – a maker of mini multimedia projectors – has used InVideo ads to target movie and media-related content.

Google launched its display ad builder in 2008. Since then, the AdWords tool has been used by some 40,000 advertisers – half of whom are actively using it today. Over 80 percent of those businesses had never run a display ad campaign with Google before.

Google declined to say whether it has gathered explicit user feedback on these ads, but product management director Brad Bender said the response rate suggests people are pleased on the whole with the format.

However one could argue there’s a risk for Google in aggressively pushing its InVideo ads to small advertisers. Will large brands begin to associate that ad space with small-fry marketers and shy away from it themselves? Not according to Bender.

“We’re trying to ensure these creatives look nice,” he said. “We’re looking to enable more businesses to participate in display advertising – small businesses as well as large.”

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