Google is launching Gadget Ads today, giving a big boost to using widgets (or gadgets as Google calls them) in marketing. Around 50 advertisers, including Pepsi and Paramount, have been beta testing the ads during the past few months, as we wrote this summer in our widget story.
Widget ads are far from proven, but the way that they can be distributed and updated is very promising. What’s still to be shown is how much they will cost to produce overtime and whether people will interact with them as well as Google says they’ve been doing so far.
In one sense, we’re just seeing banner ads, the original distributed widget, become even more interactive. Using widget ads, marketers can simply take the content, RSS feeds, or videos they already have and pop them into a little interactive ad. Sounds like rich media ads and that’s true. But what’s different about widgets is that folks can share them among themselves. And the widgets can also be changed or updated quickly.
The big advantage that Google brings to bear, and the one that’s really needed to make gadgets successful, is the distribution created through its AdWords service.
Think about it this way. If I am Honda, I can make a widget, put it on my site and hope that folks like it and start sharing it. But with Google, you can kickstart that sharing by distributing the widget ad across the thousands of sites or just a chosen select group, that are part of Google’s content network.
Now, Google, which sells the ads on a cost-per-click and cost-per-impression basis, only gets paid when the ads run on its network. But it’s a substantial network.
What’s also important is that Google is providing metrics for measuring the ads, such as what part of the ad folks mouse over, which videos they watch and for how long, or even if people turn up the volume on a video or turn it off. Metrics, we all know, are the linchpin for making a new format popular.
This summer, Google said it was dedicating the same amount of brainpower to developing widgets as to it’s search engine. And it’s been touting the growth of iGoogle, its home page that people can customize with gadgets. In part, Google’s Gokul Rajaram, a director of product managment, says that what’s promising about the ads is that they can also be put on iGoogle, making that service more interactive.