Google Video Ads: Overwhelming the messenger

Google's plan to provide video advertising through its AdSense Network is a mistake for the company and sites that rely on AdSense for revenue.

Google said on Monday that it will start to distribute video advertising through its AdSense Network to sites and blogs that carry AdSense advertising. But Google won't pollute it's own pages with video; it's for everyone else to use.

I agree with Michael Arrington at TechCrunch that this would make more sense if Many of the sites that carry AdSense-supplied ads will be overwhelmed by video content.Google were eating its own dog food. He goes on to discuss the complexity of producing ads and the vicissitudes of cost-per-click models. To be fair, even Google makes this problem clear by offering CPM-views-based pricing for such ads.

Making video advertising isn't quite as expensive as Arrington suggests, especially if you assume that most video advertising will not be made by New York/LA ad agencies, but may look like local cable ads. Yes, there will be high production values in some ads, but there will be extraordinarly cheap ads, too. I've produced video that approximated network news for $300 to $500 an hour. We may also see advertising that is produced at no cost to the advertiser, where the producers are compensated on the ad's performance. But that's another matter....

There is a more fundamental problem with the idea: Many of the sites that carry AdSense-supplied ads will be overwhelmed by video content. Blogs, for instance, often completely static sites, at least between page refreshes. Google's decision to refrain from using video on its own largely whitespace-and-text pages is the one most site publishers who have the vaguest idea about page design will follow, seeking to emphasize their own content rather than a Google-hosted video.

Even when there is a lot of video or graphical material on a page, a video ad, even a video program, needs to be hidden behind a link in order to minimize conflicts. The viewer's eye needs to be largely focused on an ad for it to have even a chance to succeed. A video ad in a text-centric blog page will distract from the blog and vice versa. Google's video ad network looks like a messy formula for failure.

Update: Garrett Rogers has a different opinion.