Google Search Executives Tout New Search Ad Formats

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-09-10

Google Search Executives Tout New Search Ad Formats

Hungry to prove that search advertising is not in danger of drying up or going stagnant, Google search ad monetization executives Sept. 9 said they are working on new ad formats to help boost the company's revenues.

Google's search ad formats-largely contextual links from search results-have not changed over the past several years, a common complaint among experts looking for Google to help innovate online advertising in search. During a Webcast on search monetization, Google showed how it is leveraging site links, videos, product, local and map information as vehicles for new ad opportunities.

Susan Wojcicki, vice president of product management at Google, said Google views ads the same way it views search-as another form of information, albeit commercial information. "Sometimes the best result in search is an ad," Wojcicki told financial analysts and press during the first of a series of Webcasts to keep Google watchers abreast of the company's plans.

Nicholas Fox, product management director for ad quality at Google, said search ads have for the last several years consisted of a blue link with 70 characters of text and a green URL taking users to their destination of their choosing. That is changing, he said.

For example, Fox showed how in August Google improved site link ads for some search results, where advertisers pay a cost per click for any of the clicks within their ad, including the headline or deeper links. For screenshots of the following demonstrations, please see Google Watch here.

Google users interested in purchasing an automobile can type in "chevy" and see options for site links that will take users to four separate Web pages for the Chevy Silverado, Malibu, Traverse and Equinox car models. Chevy chose to show results in its ads that are different from the algorithmic results. Users can also see similar results for the queries "Expedia flights" and ""

Fox said Google is sprinkling in video ads via movie trailers. For example, users doing a search to find more information on the upcoming movie remake "Fame" will see an option to watch the trailer right from the search results.

Googles New Ad Formats

"If I'm a user, this is the best possible piece of information for me if I'm interested in finding out about the movie 'Fame,'" Fox said. "Similarly, if I'm a movie studio, this is exactly what I want my audience to see, so it's really a win-win."

Fox also did a search on "tiger woods game" and Google returned a trailer for the video game "Tiger Woods PGA Tour 10." Google reaps the reward from these trailers when advertisers pay for a click to their Website or their video.

Product ads are another segment that has changed at Google. Fox did a search on "suitcases." The text ads don't tell users pricing information and pictures. But when Fox clicked on a button for, he was treated to pictures of three models from that company with full descriptions and pricing information.

"We're seeing some positive results of this in early tests, and we're starting to roll this out more broadly," Fox said.

Google is boosting local information search advertising. Fox searched "dentist san francisco" and saw results that included a map plus box showing him where dentists were located on the map, addresses, phone numbers and directions to get to the dentist offices.

In Google Maps, Fox searched on "hotels san francisco" and got a map with balloons plotting the location of hotels in the area. Clicking on those balloons shows information about that particular hotel. Advertising results change as users zoom around the map.

In a research note published after the Webcast, Broadpoint AmTech analyst Benjamin Schachter said Google is trying to get advertisers to spend more money with the company by helping advertisers increase ad effectiveness through new tools and ad formats. "With 80 percent of Google advertisers not maxing out daily budgets, Google is focused on using these new tools and ad formats to close the gap," he wrote.

Google is also making changes to the search user experience. The company yesterday super-sized the font size of its search box and suggestions below the search box, making it easier on Google searchers' eyes. This could eventually lead to better advertising returns because the faster users find what they want on Google, the more they search.   

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