Google Plans a New Type of Extended Display Search Ad [Exclusive]

Last Updated Oct 21, 2010 5:12 PM EDT

Google (GOOG) has tried to build its display ad business to diversify from its dependence on search ads and add growth. Now it looks as though Google plans to cross the two categories. A new patent application shows a system that would create a cross between search and display ads. The system would pull detailed product information into a display ad form on the fly to match search keywords, sizing ads to fit whatever type of device will show them.

Patent application 20100268606, filed in April 2009 and made public today, is titled Targeted Image Ads. A computer would receive a keyword (which could be delivered by a search engine), match an advertiser to the keyword, and deliver an ad, appropriately formatted for the user's device, as the first independent claim makes clear:

A computer-implemented method, comprising: receiving product information specifying products or services, each of the products or services being associated with an advertisement; receiving display criteria indicating display properties associated with the product information for displaying the product information; receiving one or more keywords; identifying the advertisement in response to the one or more keywords; generating advertisement display data for displaying the advertisement on a webpage; generating presentation data for displaying the product information according to the display properties separate from and proximate to the webpage; and providing the advertisement display data and the presentation data to a client device.
The reason for display ads is to provide product information that often goes missing in a typical search ad, as the application's description explains:
For example, advertisements associated with the query often only include text describing products or services, but may not include any specific information associated with each of the products.
As the application explains, someone searching for "tires" may get an ad for a tire store that is general without details of what tires might be in stock. Instead of the consumer heading to a landing page, clicking on the ad might create a secondary display ad near the first with such specific product information as a description, price, dates of any promotion. The approach offers a number of advantages:
  • The consumer doesn't spend time hopping from the search page to a spot on the web that may or may not be of interest, only to return to the search.
  • The approach would more thoroughly qualify consumers, potentially saving money for the advertiser, because people would be less likely to click an ad just to see if it might be relevant. If they go to the landing page, it's because there's already something that interests them, and the advertiser knows it.
  • The advertiser gets another chance to present information to further interest prospects.
  • Google extends the amount of time people spend on search pages, which, in turn, increases the chance of additional ad views and revenue.
This sounds as though it could be related to a patent application, which became public during the summer, for a system that would automate finding the best display ad formats.

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Image: RGBStock.com user slonecker, site standard license.
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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.