Posted March 26, 2008 4:39 pm by with 4 comments

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It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve long seen it coming down the pike: Google’s got video ads in search engine results pages today. Danny Sullivan has long said that Universal Search, with its integrated video in SERPs, was just the first step toward video ads in the sidebar and above the natural results. Just last month, Marissa Mayer was talking about video ads with the New York Times.

And now they’re live: but Google’s approach is still “delicate,” as Mayer said it would be. Video ads are appearing on select queries as plus box results accompanying a regular text ad. The plus box text has read “Watch commercial,” “Watch demonstration” and “Watch testimonial.” (Any guesses which of these might convert the best?)

Naturally, text-only advertisers may have a hard time competing with these video ads—but only if users notice the plus boxes. Of course, it’s entirely possible that as users get more and more used to seeing the plus boxes, Google might begin including video players in sponsored results without plus boxes. But for now, further testing will have to show us whether or not users are watching the video ads—and whether or not users watching the ads click through to the site.

SERoundtable caught these screen caps:
google video ad plus box in the sidebargoogle video ad plus box in the sidebar expanded
google video ad plus box at the top of serp expanded

Note that videos on the sidebar are shown in a smaller format which fits in the sidebar. Videos that appear in the shaded region above the organic listings have larger screens to play.

Wondering about the cost? Google Blogoscoped reminds us that

Also, the NYT explains that with video ads, “the advertiser pays when users click to see the video, even if they never click through to the advertiser’s site.” (Text link based AdWords are only paid when the user clicks through.)

As Google clarified to Search Engine Land last month, “Advertisers pay on a CPC basis where any click counts. Meaning, if a user clicks on the URL link that counts as a click or if a user clicks to play the video (via the plus box) that also counts as a click. An advertiser only pays for one click.” Video advertisers are banking on their commercials drawing people into their sites—so they’d better have some good video.

The only SERP I get the video ads on is for [smart phone(s)], where Blackberry has a commercial (though [mobile phone(s)], [cell phone(s)] and simply [phone(s)] have been shown to work for others, as well as [laptop]). Keep your eyes peeled for the new plus box, and let us know what keywords show them for you!

More in depth coverage from around the web:

What do you think? Will video ads yield better clicks and higher conversion rates? Will they cost advertisers more per conversion? And what’s in the future: will Google always use the plus box or will the integrate video players into the advertising areas of SERPs?