Google Inches Toward Comprehensive Online (and Offline) Ad Solution

by , May 22, 2007, 5:51 AM
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As part of its forays into offline advertising, Google has been quietly testing programs that offer radio buyers next-day metrics on air times, traffic spikes and call center responses, said Gokul Rajaram, Google's project management director for AdSense. Rajaram noted that Google has also developed tools to improve TV metrics, while, of course, working to create standard metrics in the fragmented online space.

And what about online, Google's still-predominant medium?

Speaking at the JMP Securities Research Conference, Rajaram answered investors' questions about the company's forward-looking plans with one statement: "Advertisers are increasingly coming to us saying that they want an online advertising solution--not just a search or display solution."

He then detailed a number of key components in Google's strategy for providing such a comprehensive solution, and in the process fielded queries about monetizing YouTube and the future of independent ad networks in light of recent deals.

Breaking the various forms of online ad models out of their silos is of primary concern, Rajaram said, and Google intends to leverage YouTube's scale and popularity in order to do so. He acknowledged that while the video portal has been growing in metrics such as page views, it's still years away from being a "billion-dollar ad-revenue stream."

Rajaram alluded to the PVA (participatory video ad) unit as an example of how YouTube drives innovation among advertisers--as brands like Cingular create strong, community-focused content, especially for the platform. By providing advertisers with a "rich, creative platform" in addition to connecting them to publishers for display, search or contextual ads, Google aims to create a synergy that Rajaram called "brand response advertising."

While offering advertisers an ad model that fosters a deep understanding of ROI for a multi-platform campaign, Google also plans on using DoubleClick to streamline the inventory management process for publishers. Google's "tight integration with DoubleClick's ad server gives us the ability to understand the value of all kinds of inventory better," said Rajaram. Marrying the DART technology with AdSense's monetization capabilities, for example, would allow Google's sales team to match a given publisher's remnant inventory with an advertiser's need for a cost-effective display ad supplement.

Answering pointed questions about the future of independent ad networks, Rajaram said: "If the ad networks are just playing an arbitrage game, then they will not survive in the long run." While declining to comment on specific deals other than Google/DoubleClick, he said he believes the independents can survive by adding value to publishers in a sustainable and scalable way.

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