Google has been working on ads that are more eye-catching than its text ads for awhile, but the emergence of Bing as a fertile new e-commerce ground may be spurring the company to move faster.
The Wall Street Journal and others report that Google is set to test product ads for its users to click on when they browse Google.com. Google Blogoscoped posted the e-mail sent to advertisers, which said:
"Google product ads will feature product specific information directly in the ad such as price and product image. During the beta program, Google will be testing to identify the most effective ad formats. Google product ads will complement standard text ads on Google.com and will run independently during the beta."
Moreover, the pricing will have an e-commerce feel, with advertisers setting the commission they want to pay and paying Google only when a user makes a purchase. Of course, the more you pay for the commission, the better Google will tout your product in its sponsored links. How well the ad matches a query and how often people click on the ads will also factor into Google's placement of your product ad.
With Microsoft touting Microsoft Bing Cashback, which apportions ad revenue to consumers for some of their purchases, there's no time like the present for Google to gun for online shoppers.
Google late Friday also snuck in another neat feature for Google Maps. It's called "What's here?" and as you'd expect, you just click on a point on a Google Map and it serves up information on what exists at a certain location on a map.
To find "what's here?" just right click and you should see the most relevant result for that location, including a specific address, or a business name. Google Product Manager Fernando Delgado noted in a blog post:
"This feature takes into account the zoom level you're looking at, and gives you the most appropriate geographical entity at that point. For example, if you're zoomed in closely on Manhattan, you can get the full address of a point by clicking on "What's here?". Additionally, by combining this with the "At this address" feature that you may have seen in the left-hand panel, you can also see a list of the businesses located at that place."
However, as ReadWriteWeb's Jolie Odell notes, the what's here feature has issues with accuracy of rich data for map points within a mile, finding businesses and intersections.
I experienced similar issues in trying to find points in my hometown of Connecticut, with the same photos and other data popping up for neighboring towns.
Clearly, the feature needs work. Still, what's here is another way Google is simultaneously proving itself useful by helping us find anything we want online and scaring us to death by helping us find anything we want online.
How's this feature working for you?