Monday, January 24, 2005

Google ad API

Google is coming out with an API for AdWords and AdSense (via Searchblog). Details are sketchy, but here is a summary from Silicon Valley Watcher:
    For the first time, the search giant will provide its advertisers with an application programming interface (API), which will enable them to link their computer systems with Google and control parts of the mammoth Google ad delivery system. The API will allow advertisers to self-administer the delivery, the timing and the price they will pay for their text ads.
    The Google API is only available to advertisers and not to online publishers carrying Google ads.
One key question: Will advertisers be able to exclude specific sites from their ad delivery? The implications are enormous.

If the answer is yes, advertisers will now have direct control over their traffic. This ability will help them detect and act against fraudulent clicks in real-time, without appealing to Google's bureaucracy. It will also give them more leverage with Google, in terms of shaping security and content-delivery policy.

Let's consider a hypothetical here. Advertisers may decide they don't trust certain behavioral segments of web traffic. So they say, for example, "exclude domain". Google's publisher base will tend to erode under these conditions. The survivors will be large, trusted publishers with a name and audience. But where is Google's competitive advantage in such a market? The point is, giving advertisers control over ad delivery undermines Google's unique strength - leveraging large data sets and broad traffic patterns. If Google gives this up, it will face tough competition from people who are already exploring alternative ad models like,,

But it's not clear that this functionality will be present in the API. We'll just have to wait and see.