Google Extends Overlay Video Ads

More Google sites will be getting the pre-roll ad treatment.

NEW YORK Google hopes to spread its pre-roll video ad alternatives from YouTube to other Web sites. Six months after it introduced overlay ads — transparent, Flash-animated placements that appear at the bottom fifth of the screen while a video plays — to YouTube, Google is starting to extend the format to sites in its content network.

Google’s initial partner list is missing household media names; instead, it includes 20 specialty sites like, eHow, MyDamnChannel and ExpertVillage. It has also linked up with ad platform and network providers Brightcove, Yume, Tremor Media and Eyespot Network. One area Google is avoiding: user-generated content.

In-stream spots, running either before or after content, remain the dominant form of advertising video. But Google has held that these ads provide a poor user experience because they are overly disruptive. In its first foray into video ads in 2006, it offered video ads within banner placements on partner sites, but those are all user-initiated. For advertising within streams, Google said overlay ads occupy a middle ground of interruption and invitation, communicating a message while inviting a user to click for a longer or more interactive experience.

“We found the overlay model was an optimal combination of performance for the advertiser, great monetization for the publisher and a non-invasive experience for the consumer,” said Christian Oestlien, a Google product manager.

The overlay format has quickly gained steam since VideoEgg first introduced it. In addition to Google, ScanScout and DailyMotion use variations of it. Yahoo! last week started another alternative to the pre-roll experience: a three-second spot that retreats into a banner on the top of the video player.

It is supplementing the animated overlay ads with text versions that it will cull from its several hundred thousand advertisers. Those will be priced on a cost-per-click basis, while the animated overlays get cost-per-thousand rates that Oestlien said were typically near $20.

Google executives would not say how much reach its network has, only that it would encompass “hundreds of millions” of streams.

Advertisers can target their placements either by specific site or channel. Google is also targeting based on the page’s content, video title and other hints it can glean of the video’s subject matter.

Jim Kaskade

Jim Kaskade is a serial entrepreneur & enterprise software executive of over 36 years. He is the CEO of Conversica, a leader in Augmented Workforce solutions that help clients attract, acquire, and grow end-customers. He most recently successfully exited a PE-backed SaaS company, Janrain, in the digital identity security space. Prior to identity, he led a digital application business of over 7,000 people ($1B). Prior to that he led a big data & analytics business of over 1,000 ($250M). He was the CEO of a Big Data Cloud company ($50M); was an EIR at PARC (the Bell Labs of Silicon Valley) which resulted in a spinout of an AML AI company; led two separate private cloud software startups; founded of one of the most advanced digital video SaaS companies delivering online and wireless solutions to over 10,000 enterprises; and was involved with three semiconductor startups (two of which he founded, one of which he sold). He started his career engineering massively parallel processing datacenter applications. Jim has an Electrical and Computer Science Engineering degree from University of California, Santa Barbara, with an emphasis in semiconductor design and computer science; and an MBA from the University of San Diego with an emphasis in entrepreneurship and finance.