Google Testing Animated GIF Ads

After dipping its toes into the graphical ad world back in May, Google is at it again. It’s now testing animated .GIF ads with “a small test group of advertisers” — a move that may give Google placements more branding value.

The new animated ads will appear on the Web sites of AdSense publishers who have opted-in to display image advertisements, and won’t be displayed on Google.com. Previously, the search giant accepted only .JPG, .GIF or .PNG formats without animation. Image ads can be in the following formats: the standard 468 x 60 banner, the 728 x 90 leaderboard, the 300 x 250 inline rectangle and the 120 x 600 skyscraper. Advertisers testing animations will still be required to abide by the 50 kilobyte file size limitation.

Google’s move inches it toward offering more branding-oriented creative types, though the animated ads are still priced on a direct marketing-oriented cost-per-click basis. Google wouldn’t comment on the animated ad test, other than to confirm the information posted on its Web site. Nor would the company say which advertisers were testing the ads.

The Google test may partly be aimed at heading off competition from upstart players like Conducive’s adMarketplace, which launched today. AdMarketplace offers Google-like contextual targeting, but focuses exclusively on image advertising. It encourages smaller advertisers to utilize Flash by offering Web-based ad creation tools.

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