Google announced March 4 on both their AdSense blog (for website owners) and their AdWords Blog that they are testing expanding ads placed via 3rd party ad servers in Google's Content network. I've been running expanding and streaming video ads for as long as I can remember marketing online. My original use with them was the old Enliven product and I've used BlueStreak, Atlas, Eyewonder, and PointRoll. So I love them.
Google's version is a little different than what I've run in the past, but here's what they've told both advertisers and website owners.
- The ad expands on a click and not on a rollover
- The website earns money and/or the advertisers pays money on a click sent to a website or on a CPM basis. So like Google video ads, no money is exchanged on the expanding unit.
- The advertiser must be using one of Google's approved 3rd party ad servers
- The expanding ad won't get larger than twice its size.
The reason Google is doing this is simple. Expanding ads get higher click rates and while they are not huge jumps, based on Google's volume it provides a slight bump. Based on my experience, I'd peg rich media increased CTRs at about 10% which is enough to make significant changes to Google's bottom line. Advertisers love it because the interaction rates (% of people expanding ads and doing things within the expanded unit) are in the low single percentages which is awesome.
Are you an advertiser? If yes, you should be building expanding ad units and now that you can run them on Google's AdSense network, you'll only pay a CPC if you buy it that way. This is just another reason why Google dominates the online advertising world.