Advertising for Good: Google AdSense Helps Fuel the Web

Yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of Google AdSense. Following the company’s successful launch of AdWords, Google expanded its search-based ad program with a self-service option designed to maximize revenue potential for websites while improving the user experience with more relevant ads. Providing advertisers with the ability to reach across pages dynamically has led to a service that over time has helped steer the economics of the Web.

“If you see an ad on a random website, there’s a good chance that the ad is being served with the help of AdSense,” reports The Atlantic. “In June 2004, AdSense launched display ads. In 2005, it teamed up with Blogger to help blog publishers earn money from their content. In 2007, it added ads for video and mobile content. In 2009, it added expandable ad formats and interest-based ads. Come 2011, more transactions were made through AdSense every day than on all the world’s major stock exchanges.”

AdSense “basically turned the Web into a giant Google billboard,” said Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Land, in 2007 as reported by USA Today. “It effectively meant that Google could turn everyone’s content into a place for Google ads.”

Following Google’s 2007 purchase of DoubleClick, AdSense is now the biggest player in the display ad business. According to Google, AdSense shared $7 billion with more than 2 million publishers in 2012.

The Atlantic spoke with Susan Wojcicki, Google’s new SVP of Advertising and Commerce, who helped to build the AdSense program. The following are a few of her more interesting comments:

“…the amount of investment we’ve made over the past 10 years has grown it into a really sophisticated suite of products for both publishers and advertisers — something that enables publishers to monetize their sites, and advertisers to be able to get the reach that they want.”

“What we pioneered 10 years ago was contextual targeting: the idea that if you have an article about cooking, or making a craft, or travel, then we would serve an ad that’s relevant to that. So if you have an article about cooking, you have, say, an ad for the ingredients that go in the recipe.”

“What’s evolved since then is the recognition that there are some types of sites where the context isn’t really relevant for advertisers. And probably the most significant area in that regard has been news.”

“The more you know about the users, the more you can serve something that’s useful for them. So audience targeting, and serving ads to the right audience, is something that we’ve invested a lot in.”

“One other thing that’s important to mention: advertising really does fund the Internet for being free. And that is a really, really important component. You think about all the people who have access to all this information — everywhere, globally — because the Internet provides so much information that’s free. And the reason it’s able to do that is because of the advertising.”

For the full interview, visit The Atlantic.