Google develops new search ad tools

11 September 2009

PALO ALTO, California: Google, the online pioneer, has unveiled a range of new search advertising tools intended to make these ads more engaging for consumers, and also plans to heighten its focus on the "fast-growing" mobile category in the future.

Susan Wojcicki, Google's vice president of product management, said the company's "pace of innovation is accelerating."

In evidence of this, she reported that Google tests around 90 potential improvements to its search engine every quarter, with up to 50 such programmes in operation at any one time.

As part of its effort to make paid-for advertising more useful to marketers, the Palo Alto-based portal has introduced a feature enabling them to include links to a variety of products in a single search ad.

Similarly, photographs and images of brands can be inserted into these placements, an option which is expected to particularly appeal to manufacturers in the FMCG sector.

Companies can also now add videos to these ads, an approach which has been adopted by Electronic Arts, the videogame manufacturer, for its Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10 title, and for the new movie, Fame.

This format is said to be especially attractive as a means of promoting films and videogames, but could also be employed to demonstrate products that are difficult to use.

Nick Fox, business product management director on Google's AdWords, argued that "our search ads have largely looked the same over the course of the past seven or eight years."

"In many cases, the best information is video," Fox added, and this is one area he expects to receive increased interest from brand owners going forward.

While Google will charge advertisers each time a video is played, Fox said increasing the cost-per-click for its clients "isn't necessarily a goal".

"It may be that there's an ad that's very high quality that's only worth a penny to advertisers," he concluded.

With regard to campaign management, Google has introduced a tool for identifying keywords based on search results, and a system that estimates the impact of a marketer increasing or decreasing their bids on AdWords.

Furthermore, it has built an automated service that can inform advertisers if the price or performance of a particular keyword has changed.

However, Richard Fetyko, an analyst at Merriman Curhan Ford, said "they need consumers to start spending. That's the bottom line. That's when advertisers will increase their bids."

In the broader digital space, Google is developing a range of facilities for use on internet-ready cellphones, such as a "click-to-call" feature for ads on the mobile web.

"Mobile for Google been a small but very fast-growing segment that we think is going to be an important part of our monetization and search story going forward," said Wojcicki.

Juniper Research has forecast that worldwide mobile advertising revenues will reach $500 million (€344m; £300m) this year, rising to $2 billion by 2014.

Data sourced from Reuters, Business Week, Business Insider; additional content by WARC staff