There’s a pretty comprehensive article in today’s New York Times about Google’s new Gross Impression advertising model. The concept is a radical departure from the company’s search model. The brand marketing test, which will allow advertisers to choose where their ads will run, is supposed to be limited to Google’s network and will not effect what you see on Google.com
This is probably a good thing, because irrelevant content (including advertising) is what makes the Internet useless and annoying. The move is touted as an expansion to a larger strategy. Pundits say that it puts Google firmly in the advertising business (as opposed to the search engine business). This is either an admission that, now that they are publicly traded, they need to do something the old guard will understand or, that they don’t understand the nature of brand advertising at all. Advertising does not build brands, advertising let’s people know about great brands. There are no great brands with bad products, and – brand advertising does not help products that wouldn’t already be best sellers. Most importantly, you can’t build a brand with a limited emotional experience served out of context. Brand building is about emotion and, most importantly — relevance!
Gross impression advertising is a very, very old model. It is priced on waste, not on accuracy. That is all the old technology allowed. In truth, it would be fun to have a, more intelligent, relevance engine so that you could see ads for cheese on a wine site. I’m not sure I want to see an ad for online poker during my virtual romp through California wine country. Although, I am sure many people who drink wine also like poker. As with many things, this is going to be a great opportunity to learn about the future through the past. We’ll look back at this in six months and see.