Blog Post

Google Turns Widgets Into Ads

Google (GOOG), the search and advertising giant, is always looking for ways to increase its control of the online advertising market. Today the company is launching a new effort to turn widgets into ads. A select group of brand advertisers are working with Google on special Google gadgets (widgets) that iGoogle users can place on their Google homepage.

The idea is not much different than the Sony Pictures’ Spiderman ads that were cooked up by Photobucket and placed on MySpace pages earlier this year. (The ads caused a massive fracas that ultimately resulted in MySpace buying the photo-sharing service.)

Gadget ads can incorporate real-time data feeds, images, video and much more in a single creative unit and can be developed using Flash, HTML or a combination of both. Designed to act more like content than a typical ad, they run on the Google™ content network, competing alongside text, image and video ads for placement.

While Google is currently shying away from placing these widget ads on other networks and sites, there is nothing stopping it from extending this program to MySpace. It has, after all, made a $900 million commitment to Fox’s interactive properties.

4 Responses to “Google Turns Widgets Into Ads”

  1. The widgets need to provide value to the user/adopter – a simple ad will turn people off and this nascent area needs to be creatively approached, how about Conde Nast Traveller create a ‘green travel guide’ widget, on the one hand they inform for free on the other their brand sits there on the widget, not actively promoting, but raising brand awareness and retention – these brands have got to think creatively in the widget sphere, sponsoring valuable content – there is so much that can be achieved but seemingly so little creativity – I touch on this and ‘appvertising’ at the Fat Man Collective blog.

    Adam Martin

  2. Om,

    This is an interesting launch by Google and one I think they need to be a bit careful while executing.

    On the one hand, this provides ample opportunity for advertisers to create interesting/creative ads that could potentially increase CPM. On the other hand however, there is a lot of potential for these flashy ads to cause annoyance to users by distracting them from the original content (much like those flashy banners and popups that are all over the web). Atleast the text based AdSense ads were relatively non intrusive.

    However, implemented right and in the right context, I do think they have significant potential.

  3. This is a very good move for Google and the only way I can imagine that they can get a decent CPM on some of the social media ad space they are buying up (or renting as the case may be). They need to engage users far more than AdSense links do (which I believe users are more blind to than banners these days). The branding play also makes sense as social media users are not anywhere near the purchase funnel.