Google Launching Breakthrough “Gadget Ads”

Google will announce the roll-out of new interactive “Gadget Ads” that sound like a dream come true for marketers.  The ads have “the dynamism of television but also the Web interactivity that lets users choose what they see,” says Reuters’ Eric Auchard (apparently without having seen them).  The ads can be downloaded and installed like widgets and then updated by the advertiser (a private Bloomberg terminal flashing messages direct to  customers). The ads also apparently provide extensive feedback about how users interact with them.  Google evidently previewed the ads for a select group.  Descriptions follow.  Anyone else seen these things?   Reuters:

Gadget Ads can incorporate instantly updating data feeds, images, video and even miniature, fully functioning Web sites in a single advertising unit, using the latest mouthful of Web publishing technology terms, including Flash and AJAX.

Gadget Ads will allow advertisers to count not just whether the user clicked on a particular ad but how much consumers engage with the features of a particular ad, said Christian Oestlien, a business product manager for Google Gadget Ads…

With Google’s help, advertisers can measure user behaviours like how much of a video ad was watched, whether it was viewed more than once, if a user fast-forwarded or rewound the video, and whether the menu or other controls were used.


The widgets will be able to support real-time data feeds, images, video, and more. They can be developed in Flash, HTML, or a combination of both. As they look and feel more like web content, they’re a significant departure from the Google ads we’ve grown accustomed to. They’re far more attention grabbing and enticing than text ads, that’s for sure. You can use either a CPC or CPI pricing model for your text ad, and as with all effective widgets, they can be shared by others and easily spread across the web.

There are a few different targeting options, too. These ads can be placed contextualy, geographically or based on demographics. Google will provide reporting so you can track the success of your gadget ads. Right now the biggest downfall with these ads is that, if placed in your typical side par advertising position, it may be easier to overlook the fact that this is, in fact an interactive widget that will not immediately redirect you to another web page. With these targeting options, the launching of Google Gadget Ads could be fair warning for other contextual ad companies like Media River or Tribal Fusion.

And Louise Story at the New York Times:

Marketers can use space within these display ads on Google’s network to show videos, offer chats with celebrities, play host to games or other activities. If consumers like the widget ad, they can save it onto their desktops or on their profile pages online on sites like Facebook and MySpace.

The new widget ads represent a more aggressive push by Google to attract big brand advertisers who like flashy ad units rather than the simple text ads commonly run in Google’s ad network…

One big advantage of the technology is that the consumer does not have to click through to a Web site. A weather widget, for example, would constantly update the weather report in a particular area. Similarly, marketers could feature content to attract consumers while constantly updating their own messages…

Google tested its Gadget Ads program this summer with a group of 50 marketers. To encourage more advertisers to make such ads, Google is offering to be host of videos for the ads in YouTube’s servers — a cost-saving for advertising agencies. And Google provides tools for updating the ads, even if marketers do not bid for ads in Google’s network. Marketers pay Google only for the ads that run in its networks and not for any downloading or saving of those ads that consumers may choose to do.

“We’re not trying to monetise every single event that happens in a creative,” Mr. Oestlien said, adding that they wanted advertisers “to make rich creative ads that are really useful to the end user.”


Tracking the Gadget Ads ROI wasn’t difficult, according to Bladimiar Norman, head of interactive advertising for Paramount Vantage.

The division of Paramount Pictures was part of the search giant’s first gadget trial, promoting “A Mighty Heart” (a thriller based on journalist Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping and murder in Pakistan) through a widget that featured the movie trailer and a news ticker, as well as a clickable timeline that enabled users to relive the 16 months surrounding Pearl’s kidnapping.

“Of course, selling tickets is the bottom line,” said Norman, “but we were able to track which articles users clicked on, how long they watched the video and whether they shared it with others.”

Giving users the ability to share, embed and take widgets with them wherever they go on the Web means that brands have to be willing to give up control over their message.

“That’s the reality of where our industry is,” said Norman. “There’s no ability to protect content once you release it into the marketplace. But by allowing users to take it with them wherever they go–it becomes a virtue of their lifestyle.”

Norman added that the exposure from a current events-focused blogger who chose to embed the ad their site would probably be more valuable than other, more traditionally garnered impressions.