Google targets $20 billion local TV ad market

Google, which is already making a play for the TV dollars spent by big national brands with investments into what it calls premium video, is now targeting small- and medium-sized video advertisers, too. It’s adapting its popular do-it-yourself AdWords  platform to video ads made for its YouTube video portal.

Google AdWords for Video, which soft-launched in September, has a basic framework similar to Google’s text-based AdWords. The program enables a company to bid on keyword searches, so that their ad shows up when relevant YouTube searches are conducted. They can also choose to have their ad embedded into relevant YouTube video categories, much as they would place their commercial during relevant linear TV programming.

AdWords for Video purchasers pay only when their spot is actually viewed, and also get various data on when, how and where the ads were consumed.

Google has posted a short video that explains how the new program works. The company has also gathered the testimonials of some early adopters to help promote the product.

“In the past, we had one or two video templates inside AdWords, but going through and creating [a video advertisement] was laborious practice,” said YouTube product manager Lane Shackleton. “We’ve re-built AdWords from the ground up, but optimized it for video ads.”

Local TV advertising conducted by small- and medium-sized businesses brings in total revenue of around $20 billion in the U.S. each year. Google believes its AdWords program could reach beyond that market, targeting advertisers that can’t afford the expense of producing commercials and buying air time on local TV stations.

In typical Google fashion, the company is being cagey about any growth projections for its new advertising product and how many people are currently using it. Shackleton would say only that participation in AdWords for Video had grown tenfold since the program was introduced last fall.

To help kickstart its new ad product, Google is offering a $75 credit to 500,000 businesses who register here.