Google Gets Touchier

Google’s found new ways to bring advertising to your fingertips.  And it’s being pretty clever about it.

First, the clever part: Google formally unveiled its new Flipboard competitor called Currents last week.  The sparkly new news aggregation tool doesn’t quite look as good as Flipboard, nor is it as good at leveraging a reader’s social graph, but it does one thing most of the other “magazines” of this kind don’t: it offers an impressive array of full-text stories, thanks to an agreement with more than 150 publications.

You can choose content you want to subscribe to after downloading the app to your iPhone, iPad or Android device; you can also get content via RSS, Google+ feeds, Google Reader feeds, and video and photo feeds. One very cool thing it does: automatically sync all your subscribed content, so you can read it when you’re offline.

Here’s the kicker: the company also made Currents into a platform for publishers to instantly create Currents-ready editions of their publications.  This means that publishers without the developer resources to deploy content ready for tablets and smartphones can now use the Currents platform to get the job done.



But wait: there’s more!

Google has also introduced two new forms of advertising that is optimized -- you guessed it -- for touch-enabled devices, including display and search ad units designed for smartphones and tablets.

Google’s new Rich Media Designs for Mobile consists of a range of preformatted ad units that can be branded and filled with one form of content or another.  These new ad units are essentially easy-to-use rich-media ad unit templates.  Google says advertisers can use Rich Media Designs in a number of ways, offering users, for instance, the opportunity to interact with a specific product, or promote foot traffic to a specific store location.

On the search side of the ledger, Google introduced Media Ads. Google says Media Ads enable the presentation of video within an ad on the search results page.  Google says that in addition to watching video games, TV or movie trailers, U.S. consumers will also be able to view locally relevant movie show times right within an ad.

These new tablet-specific ad formats follow the launch of new tablet-specific ad formats on AdMob and tablet-targeting in Adwords earlier this year.

Smartphone and tablet adoption are on a tear globally. With all these new ways to create more interactive and engaging ads, and a platform through which publishers can easily monetize their content using those ads, Google’s created huge new opportunities for both publishers and advertisers alike -- and, of course, for itself.

Combined with its increasing dominance in mobile OS via Android, Google is more touchy than ever.

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