Jan 302011

Google stepped up its desktop and mobile advertising efforts this week, testing display ads in Gmail and launching its Boost small business ads for Apple’s iPhone and Android handsets.

The Gmail display ads, first reported by Search Engine Land, appear to the right of Gmail users’ e-mail messages where the content is relevant.

This follows the format of image-based ads appearing on Google.com and several other Google properties. Google display ads sold at a $2.5 billion run-rate through 2010.    

A Google spokesperson confirmed the experiment for eWEEK in a statement Jan. 28:

“We’re always trying out new ad formats and placements in Gmail, and we recently started experimenting with image ads on messages with heavy image content.”

Heavy image content would include e-mails such as the clothing retailer ad stumbled upon by Search Engine Land. Ads could also be presumably based on bulk marketing messages from Amazon.com or local deals from Groupon.

So if a user listed restaurants and shoe stores as preferences for their Groupon subscription, Google might also display ads with images of some eateries and footwear shops alongside any of the Groupon marketing messages.

Meanwhile, on the mobile ad front, Google Boost has followed its October launch on users desktops to popular smartphone platforms.

Google Boost, a sort of AdWords lite that makes it simple for local businesses to create ad campaigns that target potential customers in their area. Boost uses info from businesses’ Google Places listing to automatically inserts text ads in Google Search and Maps results pages.

Now Boost ads will appear on Google Search results pages on Android and iPhone devices, which will arguably be more relevant for reaching shoppers on the move in their neighborhood.

“Consumers increasingly use mobile devices to search for products and services, and Boost will give advertisers the opportunity to reach these customers exactly when they are looking for local businesses on their phones,” explained Google Boost Product Manager Kiley McEvoy Jan. 25.

Ideally, Boost will be paired with Google Offers — the search engine’s Groupon alternative — to help the company push local deals to consumers this year.

Google Boost is available in all U.S. cities to certain business types. Potential advertisers can find out if their business is eligible by checking the dashboard in their Google Places account. 

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