AdSense Goes to the Movies

    February 27, 2007

Have you have seen Google’s Gmail theater videos? They’re short instructional videos using characters/puppets made out of office supplies extolling the virtues and features of Gmail. They’re whimsical and fun… you know, typical Google. Now they’re showing up in AdSense spots.

AdSense Goes to the Movies
AdSense Goes to the Movies

I found of Google’s Gmail Theater videos on YouTube one day last week on Digg. The most interesting thing about these videos isn’t what they were, but where they’ve been showing up lately -namely, in AdSense spots. Digital Inspiration blogger Amit Agarwal was surprised to find Gmail Theater Act 1 in his AdSense display.

Amit made several interesting observations about the embedded player in his post including:

–  The AdSense gadget has an embedded Youtube player and serves the videos directly from YouTube.

–  The Youtube player (250×200) is about 50 pixels smaller than the AdSense Ad (300×250)

–  A company called Lab Pixies is serving the actual widget serving the Adsense Flash.

–  Images within the ad are also served by Lab Pixies but redirected through google-owned

The ad contains a clickable ‘Tips’ tab containing promotional/informative tidbits like:
"Keep your social life hopping by easily adding event info from your Gmail messages to your Google Calendar."

Since buying YouTube, Google really hasn’t done too much with it –sparring with various sundry traditional media studios aside. So, in a lot of ways, I looked at Google Theater as Google’s first foray into video on YouTube. I remember thinking when I saw the Gmail videos that this was an odd use of somebody’s 20 percent time. But what the heck… it’s fun and neat and all that.

But… were they really created out of a quirky brainstorm concept – one of those ‘hey you know what would be neat’ kind of moments? Was it something like this:

I Know!  Lets’ make a video about Gmail out of office supplies. It’ll be fun! We’ll make a video out of random office supplies and use them to teach people about gmail features. We’ll turn sticky notes and paper clips into, like, little puppets. –It’ll be google-riffic! (editor’s note: I do suspect that there are, in fact, Googlers that use the word ‘Google’ in bad mashups with other words. I further suspect some of their peers think it’s awful)

Or was it a more calculated researched type of thing? As in:

Marketing and development has determined that initial beta testing of video inventory delivery should be limited in scale and scope while we assess market uptake. To facilitate this endeavor, we should create a series of short pieces produced for maximum palatability and minimal expense.

Or –third option, did they just get the AdSense thing ready and just serve whatever they had – which was basically just the Gmail puppet show or one of a few reviews of Premier Apps.

Furthermore, you might legitimately ask, who cares?  What difference does it make?  Well, that’s a fair question. I guess when I saw them in AdSense, I just looked at them differently. Why? Because AdSense is the money making part of Google.  Everybody likes the fun Google.  The Money Making information gathering email scanning big brother kind of stuff… well that’s not as much fun. I thought these were supposed to be fun… and now they’re in AdSense. 

So, I dunno… maybe I’m reading too much anti-commercial rhetoric on ‘social democracy’ sites and becoming jaded.  For whatever reason, when I saw them in AdSense it was just kind of like hearing a favorite old song turned into a bad fast food commercial or something. OK, maybe not THAT bad… but it’s the same concept.  

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