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Rich Media Ads in Search: Google’s Video Plus Box (VPB)

Google recently introduced an expandable rich media ad to their ad offering in the Google Search Network.  Video Plus Box (or VPB) is a new feature in Google Search that allows a user to watch a short clip that’s embedded in an advertiser’s sponsored search listing.  When enabled, VPB can be found beneath the display URL.  It’s a blue plus sign with a “Watch preview” call-to-action.

Travel Channel Ad [1]

Clicking on the plus sign launches the VPB clip, expanding the video. If a user clicks on the ad after having already clicked on the VPB, the advertiser will not be charged for two clicks.  Advertisers pay based on a cost-per-click (CPC) bid.

Travel Channel SERP [2]

VPB is simply an alternative to using Text ads for your Google AdWords search campaigns.  We have found that entertainment clients (with numerous video assets) make the best advertisers to use VPB.  At the moment, Google does not have the functionality to upload VPB clips in the AdWords UI or AdWords Editor, so advertisers have to submit their clips to Google.  The turnaround time is approximately one or two business days.  It can sometimes take longer.  The process of uploading VPB clips can be quite laborious on Google’s end.  As such, we only upload one VPB clip at a time in a handful of ad groups.  Submitting more than one VPB clip for a large number of ad groups might take more than a day or two for Google to complete.  Plan your campaigns accordingly.

If possible, use QuickTime clips for VPB.  They’re no larger than 200×150 and 10MB when zipped.  Anything larger will cause the email submission to be bounced back as undeliverable. The clip should be no longer than two minutes, but it’s recommended that the clips be much shorter.  Users tend to lose interest by the 30-second mark.

VPB has been an excellent fit for Travel Channel, enabling their users to immediately  watch previews of upcoming episodes, in addition to driving traffic to their web site.  Travel Channel is always open to testing new products, and VPB in particular has been a proven success for them.  CTR for Man v Food has gone from 2.18% (Jan 2009) to 6.34% (August 2009) since we implemented VPB.  That’s a 190% increase.

UPDATED:  Travel Channel VP, Digital Marketing Pete Dorogoff was quoted today in an AdAge article [3] about media companies getting more into paid search.  “We buy search terms around the talent, food, locales and major tourist attractions,” Dorogoff said. “With search we’re casting a wide net and seeing what shakes out.”

About Jen Taylor

Jen Taylor is Director of SEM at The Search Agency. She’s been doing search marketing since 2001. Before joining TSA in June 2004, Jen was at GoTo.com/Overture. She was with the Direct Sales account management team when it was acquired by Yahoo in mid-2003. Prior to her search engine marketing career, Jen worked at News America Marketing (a News Corp. subsidiary) in the Custom Publishing division and previous to that with the Los Angeles Newspaper Group, national sales team. A mother of three and wife to one, Jen tries to achieve balance by doing yoga and watching equal parts of C-SPAN, ESPN, Family Guy and Sons of Anarchy.