Google Testing In-Stream Video Ads

Google has begun an in-stream video ad test with a small group of U.S. publishers and advertisers using AdSense. The trial explores the best methods of matching video-enabled ads with online video content for each publisher.

According to Google, participating sites within the network will test using each publisher’s Flash player, instead of on YouTube or Google Video-hosted executions. Ad creative will be less than :30 and made skippable for users. Publishers will be able to select which videos to monetize, and track their performance using AdSense. Publishers can also choose where the ads will appear within the videos. Akin to standard AdSense deals, ad revenue will be split between the website publisher and Google.

Google declined to give any further details, but the not unexpected move of adding in-stream video ads to its AdSense system can only help to validate the use of video ad-serving systems, according to BrightRoll CEO and founder Tod Sacerdoti. By continuing to move into video ad serving, Google puts itself in competition with video ad companies such as BrightRoll, Tremor and Lightning Cast, which was acquired by AOL a year ago.

“Anytime you have a major player entering the space it tends to validate it for everyone in the field already,” said Sacerdoti. “In general Google has taken the approach of targeting contextually the delivery of ads based on content and video. My assumption about the test is its going to be targeted like the click-to-play video ads that appear on sites with video. Google, like everybody else, is trying to figure out the right and scaleable way to address the problem of what works in this space.”

Despite Google’s large size, assets, and successful track record using AdSense, Sacerdoti believes the company may still have difficult issues to overcome with its in-stream video test, including the lack of standards with video players, but said current Google AdSense customers will see the greatest benefits from the test.

“They tend to thrive in the environment when they have 100 percent control of how the ads are delivered, and they tend not to thrive in environments where there is a lack of standards,” he said. “To me the simple answer is if buying AdSense was effective to your brand before, then this is a good product to pay attention to, but if buying AdSense hasn’t been relevant to your brand then the video won’t be either.”

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