Pretenders vs. Contenders

We’re all looking for the next big thing in online marketing. We’re marketers. We’re innovators. We’re hungry for new techniques, tools and tricks that we can use to produce results. It’s never-ending – our quest for innovation.

The biggest problem we face on this quest is figuring out the pretenders from the contenders. It seems that every day there’s a new start-up that promises the next "big thing" that will help us accomplish our goals. But testing them all out is a full-time job – a job a busy marketer usually doesn’t have time for – especially as we’re distracted Twittering and Facebooking.

But instead of being distracted, we should also be thinking about turning back to the proven champions; the kings of innovation that always seem to deliver the knockout blow. Of course, I’m talking about Google, the heavyweight belt holder for innovative tools that help marketers stay on top.

It’s no surprise to me that Google would eventually figure out a way to combine videos with advertising after buying YouTube for a whopping $1.65 billion. It’s also not a shock that the search giant would choose to do it via its Adwords/AdSense programs. In October, Google announced it had taken its AdSense program and combined it with the power of online videos to create AdSense for Videos.

Like most online marketers, I use AdSense. I’m also a huge proponent of video and have been for a while. I create vlogs and I make viral videos and I’m always exploring new ways to monetize those efforts. So this marriage of AdSense and video seems like a no-brainer.

Now when you log in to your Google AdSense account, you can choose the "video units" feature which lets you create custom AdSense-enabled video units that can be posted on your blog or website. These video units are touted by Google as a new way to enrich your site with "quality, relevant video content, in an embedded player." And having the video surrounded by ads – that’s the innovative part.

The Publisher Perspective

All publishers need to do is log in and create a customized player that will appear on their Web property. Then choose from various color schemes and pick from three enormous-sized players available to drop into varied formats.

Each format displays a video screen with player controls that your visitors can use to navigate through the video. Each video will display two types of ads: companion ads, which appear in the player above the video content; or text overlay ads, which are displayed in the bottom 20 percent of the video content as it plays.

The ads may be paid on either a cost-per-click or cost-per-thousand impressions basis. As usual, Google isn’t saying how or how much each party is getting.

Now it comes down to a choice of serving up the type of ads and videos in your player. Just like AdSense for content, ads in video units can be contextually targeted as well as site-targeted to individual websites. Both the ads and the video content can be served in this manner.

Or if you don’t want to trust their contextual abilities, you can choose from a list of top-level generic categories (such as entertainment, music, technology, news, etc.) or choose to serve content from a specific You- Tube partner.

For example, if you had a site about home improvement, you’d probably want to choose the AsktheBuilder. com channel, where Tim Carter has created hundreds of videos that talk about everything from fixing your kitchen sink to putting gutters on your home. Or if you wanted to have information about technology, you could choose the Chris Pirillo channel, where Chris’ videos hit just about every tech topic imaginable.

Your visitors interact with each embedded player using the video controls. This allows users to play and stop the video at any time. The theory is that while the video plays, the users can click on either overlaid or companion ads, and the advertiser’s site will open in a new window or tab. The video units are user-initiated, so they won’t be intrusive to your site’s visitors. Users also have the option to minimize the overlay ad if they’d prefer.

Relevant Video

So where do the videos in the player come from, and what’s so innovative about showing videos of kids falling off skateboards, or cute cats?

YouTube understands it can’t just show you random videos in their network. There are too many questions about copyrights and frankly, questionable video content that could be potentially associated with a big name brand that is advertising. Besides, how would YouTube choose from the millions and millions of videos they have?

To solve these problems, YouTube made the decision to only serve video content from select YouTube partners (about 100 of them under contract since launch) that have chosen to make their videos available to publishers in the AdSense network along with targeted advertising.

So who’s getting paid? As it stands right now, both the publisher and the video producer will split the revenue from the ad. Not surprisingly, Google and YouTube aren’t disclosing just how much.

As a publisher, statistics from your video units will be displayed separately from other statistics on your reports page. For video units, Google will show the standard details about clicks, impressions, clickthrough rate, eCPM and earnings.

Currently these video units are only available to publishers located in the U.S. with English-language websites. And, just as with other AdSense products, you can block specific ads from appearing in your video units by adding them to your Competitive Ad Filter list.

I’m going to continue testing Ad- Sense for Video as well as look to the proven companies that have served me well over the years for help in delivering results to me. Still, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have an eye out for the next big thing. After all, who had heard of YouTube 18 months ago, or for that matter, Google four years ago?

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