Google sees ad revenue in images

July 20, 2010

Google has turned its flagship Internet search engine into a key advertising channel for businesses over the past decade.

But Google has a variety of other online properties that it believes are also well-suited for advertising, and on Tuesday the company began to effort that appears intended to ramp-up advertising on its specialized search engine for images.

GoogImageAdsGoogle executives told reporters at a briefing in San Francisco that its Image Search product, which has cataloged more than 10 billion images of everything from celebrity photos to impressionist paintings, generates more than 1 billion page views everyday – a rare nugget of information about Web traffic from the search giant.

And Google unveiled a new ad format for Image Search that allows marketers to combine images with the text that appear in the ads above regular image search results.

Until now, search ads that appeared in Google Images were for the most part all text (in some cases, the ads had product-specific images). But the new ad formats will allow marketers to include visual images for anything they want: a picture of an alluring beach for a travel agent selling Hawaiian vacation packages, for instance.

The change in format means that only two ads will now appear above Image Search results, instead of the three ads that were previously displayed. But Google executives said they expect the image-based ads to sell for a premium.

The new ad format is part of a broader overhaul to Google Image Search announced on Monday, that includes the most significant redesign of the product’s user interface since it was launched in 2001.

Instead of forcing users to click through multiple pages of image results, Google will now display up to 1,000 image thumbnails that can be quickly scrolled through on a single page. Each thumbnail can be expanded with an improved preview feature, and a click on the image takes users to a new page that provides an even larger view of the image (instead of the confusing previous process which took surfers to the actual Web page that the image came from while keeping the actual image in a small, separate frame).

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