MarketWatch: Auction-based video ads

Commentary: Coming soon to a player near you, By Bambi Francisco, MarketWatch Aug. 15, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — They can’t do it today, but pretty soon advertisers will be able to bid to be placed on video advertisements served up by Google.

That’s the word from Google (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt, who fielded questions from a couple dozen journalists last week during the SES conference in San Jose, Calif.  Schmidt was fresh from announcing Google’s deals with Viacom’s (VIA). That’s the word from Google (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt, who fielded questions from a couple dozen journalists last week during the SES conference in San Jose, Calif. and News Corp’s (NWS) digital properties, including MySpace.

One of my questions to Schmidt was when would Google leverage its sophisticated auction-based AdWords bidding model and let advertisers bid against each other in a transparent way for video placement?

Schmidt suggested that Google has already been working on such an auction-based AdWords service for video, but it’s not yet ready for prime time.

His affirmative response doesn’t surprise me all that much. After all, the automated bidding process has broadened the number of advertisers in Google’s network, thereby expanding sponsored advertisements for atypical keyword strings, like “day spas in Ethiopia.”

On the other hand, his response was quite a change from a few months ago.

Back in May, when Google held a press day down in Mountain View, Calif., I asked Schmidt the same question about video. At the time, Schmidt said Google was not working on such an auction-based platform. He said, however, it was an idea worth looking into and if there were companies working on such an auction-based bidding solution for video, he’d like to know about them.

It’s unclear when Google will roll out its video-ad auction platform. My guess is that a number of factors have to be in place, such as, umm, video ads created specifically for the Web.

If Google does roll out such as service, it will be one of the first. My bet is the service comes out before the end of this year. Besides Booyah Networks in Denver, there aren’t many, if any companies offering such an auction-based bidding service for video today. Trust me, I’ve looked around.

It’s not surprising that there wouldn’t be such a service, however. It’s only recently that Web videos have exploded to place video ads on.
The question is — what will video ads look like in 2007?

Speed dating on MySpace
San Francisco-based Browster, a startup with technology that lets you browse the Web faster, just launched an updated client that will let MySpace members browse profiles faster.

I know, I know. You’d think the Web has already hastened the networking process enough. Do we really need a service that conditions us to go through life even faster than we already do?

To be fair, you have to use Browster’s service for the browsing experience to make sense. On MySpace, Browster takes only certain information and provides an executive summary of sorts of that personal page, excluding the personal music that may be associated with that page.

Browster founder Scott Milener said his technology is helping those on MySpace find friends faster. My analogy: Speed dating or a catalog at the front of a store. Now the trick will be convincing people that browsing faster is enough of an incentive to download the Browster client.

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