Text ads have been the bread and butter of Google (GOOG) for years, and the natural outlet for small and mid-sized businesses that don't have the resources for something more elaborate. But things may be moving in a different direction. The evidence is a patent application, filed in July 2008 and published last week, for a "video overlay advertisement creator" that's intended for a site like YouTube.
Here's the first claim from the application, which gives a sense of what Google plans to do:
A method for creating a video overlay advertisement for display with a digital video, the method comprising: providing a browser-based user interface to a client, the user interface including an advertisement viewing area and adapted to receive inputs specifying attribute values of a desired video overlay advertisement; receiving the specified attribute values from the client; creating a video overlay advertisement having the specified attribute values; storing the video overlay advertisement; and providing the video overlay advertisement to the client.The explicitly stated idea is to let users create multimedia ads that would display in conjunction with videos on YouTube. Advertisers would be able to use a browser interface to choose a template and add their own specifics, much the way that Blogger, the blogging service that Google acquired, allows people to use templates to create blogs. Google would then serve the ads up as overlays, presumably on top of videos, so that people pretty much have to watch them. One variation would be a series of ad segments with transitions, so presumably the ad could change positions, sizes, colors, and essentially create animation without need tools to implement Adobe (ADBE) Flash, like a high tech version of a flip book, where the picture changes a bit from page to page and flipping the pages creates the illusion of movement. Transitions could include such techniques as fades and wipes.