Google has wrapped pilot testing of its AdSense for Video effort to let publishers run ads on video content, but it isn't shocking anyone with the way it's going about it.
In this beta, the search giant is taking a page from YouTube's playbook, using the InVideo ad approach its video-sharing site started using last August for AdSense for Video.
The InVideo approach is designed to be non-intrusive. When a user clicks on one of the videos supported by the program, a semi-transparent video graphical or text ad pops up on the bottom of the screen as an overlay in the first 15 seconds, obscuring 20 percent of the screen.
Users can choose to click on the overlay, which will pause the video, and watch the ad. When the ad is over, the video will automatically resume playing. If the user doesn't click on the overlay, the ad will disappear in 10 seconds.
Users who have no interest in the ad once they click on the overlay can simply click the X in the right-hand corner and the video will immediately resume playing.
The ads will be contextually targeted, so a user watching a video on NASCAR racing will likely see ads for new cars. Publishers get paid for InVideo ads on a CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions) basis, and text overlay ads are paid on a CPC (cost-per-click) basis.
Part of Google's magic is that it does not disclose what cut it takes for enabling these transactions, but analysts from IDC to eMarketer are expecting the market for video ads to rocket to $1 billion or higher in 2008.
Video ads, along with mobile ads, are two revenue streams that Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are hoping to tap into this year. Yahoo illustrated its interest in video ads when it acquired Maven Networks last week.
The field remains pretty wide open, but all of the rivals are rushing to find the right formula. As we've all learned from Google's paid links strategy, being the first to have a killer online advertising weapon is a fine way to take a market by the horns.
Google AdSense officials vowed to test a variety of ad formats, but said "overlays are the best way to balance user experience with the needs of our publishers," wrote Ryan Hayward and Lilly Wolfson, officials for AdSense product marketing and publisher support, in a blog post.
Indeed, in-video ads are considered an improvement over pre-roll ads, which tend to annoy impatient users because they air before the video runs.
Google partners BrightCove and YuMe are among about 20 that will offer AdSense for Video. YuMe will run AdSense for video for publishers in the YuMe network who wish to act as part of Google's massive Content Network. BrightCove said it is offering the beta to select customers.
AdSense for Video is available now in beta to U.S.-based publishers with English language sites that serve a minimum of one million video streams each month. Google said it will expand the program to more publishers of various sizes and locations. The program will be generally available to publishers later this year.