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Google Adds Image Ads to AdSense Link Units

Are you using AdSense Link Units? The block of links to related-topic ad pages are getting a new “feature” after testing showed positive results—i.e. increased revenue for publishers.

The old (and in case you aren’t familiar with the jargon—note that the page of ads looks a lot like ten blue links.):

And the new version of the ad page:

See the difference? That 2009 Special Olympics image at the bottom is new—and it’s an ad. The Inside AdSense blog gives a few vitals:

These image ads are contextually targeted, based on the link unit topic users clicked to reach the ads. If no image ads are available for the given topic, we’ll only show the original text ads — in other words, we won’t show a PSA or insert a blank space in place of the image ad in this case. Advertisers can bid on these image ads on a cost-per-click (CPC) and cost-per-impression (CPM) basis, so you’ll generate earnings for valid clicks and impressions. You can review the performance of image ads on your link unit pages by generating a link unit report on your Advanced Reports page.

What do you think—is this a presage of things to come on the SERPs?