Meatball Mondae: Millions of channels on AdWords

Google AdWords is a very simple idea that’s surprisingly little understood. On every page of Google search results, in your Gmail and your Froogle results, and more and more on the pages of other Web sites (like Squidoo or the New York Times), you’ll find these ads.

The AdWords are smart. They appear based on the context of what you’re doing. Search for “Bextra” in Google and you’ll find plenty of articles about this discontinued pain reliever. But look over at the ads and you’ll see that many of them belong to law firms. These firms are paying handsomely for your attention. They are filing class action lawsuits on behalf of people injured by Bextra, and the law firms figure that the very best way to reach those people is to find them at exactly the same moment that those people are looking for them. In other words, instead of racing around trying to generate attention, the firms merely stand by and wait for attention to find them.

Not since the Yellow Pages has there been a ubiquitous directory that brings together the searchers and the sought.

Not only do AdWords show up at the right time, but they are also priced intelligently. The Yellow Pages charged based on the size of the ad, and you paid whether the ads worked or not.

For AdWords, on the other hand, Google charges by the click. This means that the advertiser determines what it’s worth to get a visit from an interested, qualified, and motivated consumer and pays exactly that. If someone else is willing to pay more, they get the traffic instead.

The bidding system means that the advertisers with the most motivation pay the most for top billing. At the same time, Google will adjust placement based on how many times an ad is clicked on. As a result, the ads that run the most are focused, relevant, and beneficial to both sides.

While this is clearly good news for Google (millions of businesses and organizations bidding against each other, with all the money going to Google!), it’s also great news for marketers. Even marketers who don’t think of themselves as marketers.

The Kahn Law Firm probably thought of themselves as litigators, not marketers. But by using AdWords to assemble a large class of people who saw themselves as victims of a poorly labeled medication, Kahn has an advantage over other law firms. Kahn wins this round not by using their litigation skills, but by understanding the New Marketing.

Every day, hundreds of millions of people do hundreds of millions of searches on Google. Each search is its own “channel.” Each search represents a distinct marketing vehicle, a chance for an individual to directly connect with a marketer.

So the question is this: If there were a TV channel all about exactly what you sell, and the ads cost about $1 each, would you buy them?

See the entire series here.