Google plans to launch an API for its AdWords programs, a move that would give advertisers more control in managing their ads and allow vendors of bid-management tools to integrate with Googles system, according to search-engine marketers.
Google sells sponsored listings through its AdWords program in an auction-like model, where advertisers bid on the keywords that trigger their ads. Advertisers pay based on the number of clicks on their listings.
AdWords account managers have begun telling clients about the companys API plans, saying the AdWords API is ready for release "soon" and is in beta tests, sources say.
Joe Laratro, chief technology officer at search marketer MoreVisibility, was among those who heard from a Google representative. Google is expected to offer the AdWords API for free and to target the initial release at advertisers that are managing thousands and hundreds of thousands of keywords, Laratro said.
Technology-news Weblog Silicon Valley Watcher first reported news of the AdWords API on Friday. A Google spokesman refused to confirm or deny reports of an upcoming release.
Details about the AdWords API remain unclear, such as how broadly Google will make it available and what specific access it will allow to AdWords data and functions.
But search experts agree that it should provide advertisers with more access to information about their AdWords campaigns so they can better analyze and predict the performance of keywords and bids.
"The beauty of an AdWords API is the ability to unify different systems through one interface," Laratro said. "There are already programs that can manage [pay-per-click] programs from different vendors. The API allows the software programmers of these tools to have a more open relationship with the source data."
Management tools such as Atlas DMT merge and analyze bid and campaign information from multiple sponsored-link programs such as from Google, Yahoo Inc.s Overture Services, Kanoodle.com Inc. and FindWhat.com Inc. Without a way to integrate through an API, those systems often faced limits with AdWords, Laratro said.
Googles main search-advertising competitor, Overture Services, already offers an API into its system for search-engine marketers and third parties, said Andy Beal, vice president of search marketing at WebSourced Inc. Search marketers have sought similar access from Google.
While he has not heard any details from Google, Beal said he expects that Google will offer an API because it would provide a way for advertisers to more easily manage a growing number of keywords and campaigns.
Google relies almost exclusively on advertising for generating revenue, with ads accounting for at least 97 percent of revenues in recent quarters.
"They basically have the network and are realizing that its in their best interests to open up that network to as many people as possible," Beal said. "We have 1,300 clients, and they need to make available a full-blown API to help us better manage our clients and to generate more revenue for Google."
Along with the API, Google recently expanded its AdWords Conversion Tracking tool. The online tool tracks clicks on sponsored listings that lead to actions such as a purchase, page view or lead.
Through a feature called cross-channel tracking, the tool also can track conversions for sponsored listings from other programs such as from Overture, according to a posting on the AdWords Web site.
By expanding beyond its own tools and ad program, Google is signaling a greater willingness to work with third parties such as search marketers and ad agencies, said Gary Stein, a senior analyst at Jupiter Research, a division of Jupitermedia Corp.
"Its a realization that this advertising platform is going to have agencies as part of it and that the agencies are innovators, and its good to give them more capabilities," Stein said.