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The Future of Display? Better Ask Google

Posted on 9.28.2010

Twelve years ago this week, Google became officially incorporated and began its creation of the Web search industry – or, one could easily argue, the Web itself – as we know it today. On Tuesday, the company re-emphasized its recent enthusiasm for shaping the future of online display advertising.

Given the history, that’s reason enough for all Web professionals to take notice.

Google has been increasingly vocal in recent weeks about its perceived future of the display ad industry, and about the company’s intentions to be a major part of that future. Any Web publisher, advertiser or user could accurately assume that this has been more than idle talk, and we got our first glimpse into Google’s vision of the future on Tuesday at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s MIXX Conference in New York.

Predicting that display advertising is about to experience the “biggest and most important revolution in its history”, Google highlighted seven reasons why it wants to be leading the charge. Then it shared four of the new technologies that will help it achieve that goal.

We will quickly summarize all of those points below, but it seems that some of the questions most pertinent to the ad industry were left unanswered. First, here are Google’s seven predictions about where display advertising will be in 2015:

•    A $50 billion industry
•    50 percent of total display ad impressions will have rich media formats
•    Mobile will be the primary method for users to engage with advertisers
•    75 percent of ads will be social in nature (able to be shared, commented on, etc.)
•    50 percent of ad campaigns will include video bought on a cost-per-view basis
•    50 percent will be bought using real-time technology
•    Clicks will not even be in the top five most important metrics for advertisers

And, some of Google’s methods that it hopes will shape the future of display:

•    New video ad formats called TrueView (testing on YouTube)
•    New real-time technology called Teracent
•    New mobile viewing technology called Google Goggles
•    New rich media ad formats/technologies

But how much of this is vital information for professionals buying and selling advertising on the Web, and how much is just another platform for Google to hype its latest technologies? Did the company really explain its sudden, enormous interest in display, except to say that it believes it will be a $50 billion industry by 2015? How much of this, if any, has to do with the increased competition in the search industry from the Yahoo-Bing alliance, growing pressure from Facebook's rise to Web dominance, or the recent changes to AOL’s display ad formats?

One thing is for sure, and that is that we won’t get our answers unless we are paying attention. Something else we can take to the bank, judging from the past 12 years: When Google talks, it’s better to listen than to ignore – just in case they’ve gone and changed the whole darned thing.

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