Google’s Mayer Talks Image Ads in Search

On Bloomberg Radio this week, Google Search exec Marissa Mayer was asked how Google justifies blowing off the $200 million per year the company claims it could make from text ads on its image search results. Her response, “Ads should match the results.” She said if Google were to run ads in Image Search, they would likely be image ads. She also said attention would be paid to the relevance, user experience, and types of interaction with image search.

Based on those remarks, Bloomberg posted a follow-up story, “Google May Run Display Advertisements With Image-Search Results,” that makes such advertising appear imminent. Then came the blogged headlines: “Google Will Put Display Ads Into Image Searches on Tom’s Guide and the speculative “Will Image Ads Bring Google More Money?. Are these publications, and plenty others, jumping to conclusions? Yes.

Listen to the radio interview (I recommend using Explorer, it crashes Firefox) for yourself. Mayer is answering questions rather than offering information about upcoming advertising products.

That said, selling ads on image search results pages would contribute significant revenues to Google. There’s interest from advertisers, too. “For advertisers to have a very visual product… could certainly be a great opportunity,” said Kevin Lange, director of operations at SMG Search, a division of Starcom MediaVest.

The caveat for image search versus text search: “What is the mindset that goes to image search and searches for ‘car,’ as opposed to Google.com and searches for ‘car.'”

Lange also said Image search is a relatively small user base. ComScore data reports 707 million searches in image search, compared to 8.3 billion searches on all Google sites combined in March. Google received 149.6 billion unique searchers in March, and Google Image Search received 43.7 million uniques.

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