Google Introduces Widget Ads

Google is beta testing a new type of ad with a select number of its clients that allows them to take advantage of the rise in popularity of the widget.

Called Google Gadgets, the ads can be placed freely on web pages and the iGoogle pages of interested consumers. From there, the advertiser can regularly update the ad's content to keep the user's interest while at the same time advertising their products.

A variety of web technologies can be used to create the ad, including Flash and HTML to author it, and RSS, images, video, and audio among other media times to provide the content. Google would not charge any additional fee to host the content.

Several companies have participated in the preliminary tests of the service, including Sierra mist, Intel, Honda, Six Flags and Paramount Vantage. So far, the response has been positive.

"The introduction of this new advertising format provides advertisers and agencies worldwide with an imaginative, dynamic way to interact with consumers," product management chief Susan Wojcicki said in a statement.

Google will measure the rate of interactivity with ads in addition to the click-through ratios, as in many cases the user may not click-through to the advertiser. Companies would still bid for space in keywords in the same way they do for text ads now.

Analysts say that the move into widget-like ads represents a new push for Google. Bigger name advertisers traditionally prefer more flashier ads, and may see the search giants emphasis on text ads as a bit too basic.

It is estimated that nearly half of all US Internet users now use widgets in some form, according to comScore. While many would consider the applets that come with Mac OS X and Konfabulator to be "widgets," the term also encapsulates the small programs that many now attach to their social networking profiles to show music tastes or enable video comments, and the like.

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