SYDNEY: Display ads currently make up 40% of the total ads served to Australian websites by Google, with YouTube proving a particularly lucrative venue for sales.

In all, 17 of the largest 20 Australian advertisers have bought display ads of some form on one of the networks operated by the search giant.

At the beginning of the year, Google announced it planned to diversify its ad-serving business away from the search sector and towards display ads.

Google already dominates the search ad market through its AdWords and AdSense platforms, through which advertisers can bid for short text-based messages to appear on search results pages and within websites.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, has been a key part of the diversification strategy thus far, and display ad inventory on the video site's Australian home page has been sold out throughout August and September.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Shailesh Rao, Google's managing director for Japan and Asia Pacific media and platforms, said: "We are seeing a really positive response from the advertising community and we are pleased with the way things are going after just three quarters."

Google's own data show that overall advertising revenues - including both search and display ads - reached $6.56bn for the second quarter of 2010, an increase of 23% year on year.

Advertising remains the primary way in which Google makes money, with the firm's overall revenues for the quarter standing at $6.82bn.

Data sourced from Sydney Morning Herald/Google; additional content by Warc staff