Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)-taking a popular, time-honored advertising medium to the Web-is offering circular ads to lure consumers into retail stores this holiday season.
Bloomberg said the search-engine provider is working with retailers such as Macy's and Best Buy to offer circular ads, which have become staples as inserts in newspapers all over the country.
However, instead of stuffing paper within more paper, Google is presenting eye-pleasing (or so it hopes) ads when users click on search results.
Google searchers will see promotions with several pictures and larger type when they click on search ads and, eventually, banner display ads. Google's ad-serving technology will actually build the promotions on the fly, based on query topics users enter, as well as their locations.
For example, a search for a Macy's in Manhattan will likely return ads more geared to that retailer's locations in New York City than those in suburban Connecticut.
Nick Fox, vice president of product management for Google, is expected to unveil the circulars Oct. 3 at the Advertising Week show in New York City, where Madison Avenue's top advertisers flock each year to rally around their businesses to discuss new approaches. Fox said Google is rolling out both a print and Internet marketing campaign to tout its new circulars.
Fox laid the foundation for his announcement by touting Google's various ad formats in a corporate blog post Oct. 2. He pointed out that retailer CafePress has enjoyed great success using Google Sitelinks, or navigational links that take users into different sections of a Website, without making them jump around within the Website.
Fox also noted that users can watch movie trailers directly within ads, while product ads display a product's image, price and seller brand.
"Because this format is often so useful, people are twice as likely to click on a Product Ad as they are to click on a standard text ad in the same location, and today, hundreds of millions of products are available through Product Ads," Fox noted.
Location-based ads are big and getting bigger, particularly via mobile devices. Over 20 percent of Google desktop searches are location-based, but that figure jumps to 40 percent from mobile phones. More than 270,000 businesses that place ads via Google use location extensions to attach their business address to their ad campaigns.
Google, which made most of its $29 billion last year from search and display ads, also offers click-to-call ads that let consumers use their smartphones to click to call a business they're interested in learning more about.
Circulars might be one small aesthetic tweak to Google's ad-serving practices, but a bigger one looms on the horizon regarding its social ads.
The company is also hoping its +1 buttons help consumers share products or services they like with fellow friends and shoppers. Since introducing the +1 button in March, Google has racked up over 5 billion ad impressions per day on publishers' sites.
Facebook is also betting big on social ads, though it likes to leverage them by boosting the information-sharing policies for its users.
The Facebook Timeline, for example, helps encourages users to share more legacy information of their lives. This includes social applications that, once enabled, automatically publish info about how and when those users are consuming applications such as Spotify or Hulu.