Quiz: What’s the No. 2 search site?
Answer: If you guessed “Yahoo,” you’re wrong. Internet users now conduct more searches on YouTube (2.5 billion in August) than they do on Yahoo (2.4 billion), according to comScore’s expanded search query report.
So it is not surprising that YouTube’s parent, Google, is thinking of turning those searches into dollars. The company has begun testing video ads that are targeted to specific YouTube searches. The system works a lot like the hugely profitable AdWords system for search ads on Google. Type “Tina Fey” into YouTube’s search box and, along with the search results, you may find a somewhat relevant ad for the movie “W” as well as a significantly less relevant ad for the University of Phoenix. (This is a test, after all.) The “W” ad links to a trailer on YouTube for the Oliver Stone movie and the University of Phoenix ad links to that school’s YouTube channel.
“We are constantly testing a wide range of options to find the right advertising format, for the right content, for the right video experience on YouTube — whether you’re watching short videos or long videos, uploading videos, or even searching for videos on our site,” said Aaron Zamost, a YouTube spokesman. “We do not believe there is one advertising solution for YouTube, but lots of valuable ways for advertisers to engage with our audience.”
For now, only a small number of advertisers is testing the new format, the latest of many that YouTube has experimented with in the past several months. YouTube, which has struggled to monetize the hugely popular site, is still working out its targeting technology and other aspects of the YouTube search ads system.
While this system works like the multibillion-dollar AdWords program, don’t expect YouTube’s video search ads to match AdWords in size. As AdAge, which first reported on the YouTube search ads, noted, YouTube and Google are different animals: “People are often looking to be entertained when they do a video search, which is a contrast to the more varied — and often commercial — nature of searches on Google.com.”