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ITV, Google Sign Paid Search Ads Deal; So Much For The ‘Parasite’

ITV (LSE: ITV) and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) have signed a deal which will see the search giant power some web ads for the broadcaster. ITV.com will start running AdSense text ads on its search results pages in the next 10 days or so. Google has already powered ITV.com’s site search for 18 months so this is a logical extension of the deal – and it may be extended further depending on results.

It’s an incremental ad revenue source,” ITV.com commercial partnerships manager Caroline Knight, who inked the deal, told paidContent:UK. “It’s a very discreet revenue source for us – it doesn’t interfere with the kind of ad formats we run on our site.”

As the ads will only display on search results pages, it won’t mean a windfall for ITV.com, which in August was forced to postpone by two years its target of making £150 million annually from the web. But it is substantial – ITV.com search queries have grown from 500,000 in August 2007 to nearly five million last month, ITV said.

AdSense will supplant ITV.com’s core banner advertising offering. Though ITV this month warned “the wider slowdown in advertising will impact online revenue”, the broadcaster told us today its in-house display sales are hitting its own targets every month and are outperforming the market. ITV.com also recently adopted Intellitext in-line text ads. ITV.com got a £20 million facelift last year and now claims an average 5.2 million monthly users.

The Google deal comes despite ITV executive chairman Michael Grade describing Google and YouTube as “parasites” at a broadcasting conference in September, when speaking about online video. Knight told paidContent:UK: “The relationship has never been off – we’re always been talking; we’ve maintained a positive relationship throughout.” That relationship could get closer: “We may take a view, once we’ve established the relationship with them, that we might extend it.”

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