Flickr has been placing contextual advertising on their “tag” search pages (example: the “brussels” tag) for a while. They seemed to use a mixture of Google Adsense and Yahoo Publisher text-based ads. For people who are not that familiar with contextual ad units: there are
- image based ads, that consist entirely of 1 graphic
- text-based ads: a title, a 5-10 word description and a link, for one specific product – offered by both Google and Yahoo. The ads should be more or less relevant to the content of the page or the site. You can have at the most 4 ads in 1 ad unit, either vertical (“skyscraper”) or horizontal (“banner”).
- the more recent Google “link units”, a collection of one-line topic links that lead to a page fuyll of advertisements. The advantage: let’s say you do a post on digital photography: the contextual analysis picks up the “digital camera”, and might only have space for 1 ad, so shows you an ad for buying a camera on Amazon. But with the topical link units, it can first check whether you are looking to buy a camera, or already have one and are more interested in memory cards, online image hosting or printing services. So while taking up less space, they allow to filter out the interested prospects and direct them to more relevant ads.
But this weekend I saw a new kind of ad format popping up on the Flickr site: let’s call them “image-enhanced topical link units” from the Yahoo Publisher Network (the left image is a screenshot). It’s probably in a test phase, since you see a headphone picture for “web cameras”, a GSM for “cameras” and another mobile phone for “home theatre” systems, and the link between those is not that obvious. But the line of thinking is logical: use the images to catch people’s attention (worth a thousand words, aren’t they) and then use the topics to filter out the interested customers. Let’s see if Google follows.