Google is seizing on the popularity of widgets — small online tools that function like mini-Web sites — for its latest push into advertising.
The online giant will announce today a Gadget Ads program that will provide tools for advertisers to run widget ads in Google’s AdSense network.
Marketers can use space within these display ads on Google’s network to show videos, offer chats with celebrities, play host to games or other activities. If consumers like the widget ad, they can save it onto their desktops or on their profile pages online on sites like Facebook and MySpace.
The new widget ads represent a more aggressive push by Google to attract big brand advertisers who like flashy ad units rather than the simple text ads commonly run in Google’s ad network.
One big advantage of the technology is that the consumer does not have to click through to a Web site. A weather widget, for example, would constantly update the weather report in a particular area. Similarly, marketers could feature content to attract consumers while constantly updating their own messages.
More than 48 percent of Internet users in the United States — over 87 million people — now use widgets, according to comScore, the online measurement company. Some of the most popular widgets on Facebook, for example, are the “Top Friends” tool, which allows people to go to their best friends’ profiles with a single click, and iLike, which lets users add music to their profiles.
“Consumers are pulling in content from multiple sources” said Christian Oestlien, a business product manager at Google who is overseeing the new ad program. “It is what we are calling the componentization of the Web. The Web is sort of breaking apart into smaller pieces.”