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Google Wrap Up: Above the Fold; Gesture Search; Starred

Google made a number of significant announcements - even for the search engine giant - last week. For marketers three stand out in particular:

Above the Fold Ad Display

Google has launched a beta ad feature that will allow brand advertisers to target ads to ad units that are immediately visible when a page is loaded - that is, the portions of the page a user can see without needing to scroll down, Google explained in a blog post. In other words, above the fold.

Google is using a statistically-driven model to determine what is above the fold and what is below the fold. "The model takes into account various user experiences and situations, including different web browsers, monitor sizes, and screen resolutions, and only considers ads above the fold if they are fully on-screen when the browser window loads."

Up until this point advertisers that bought display on Google weren't able to accurately select where their ads would show up, Brad Bender, Google's product management director, said. (via PaidContent). "Major advertisers had been asking for a way to make sure that users see their ads when clicking on a site immediately, as opposed to seeing the spot once they scroll down.

"In contrast to cost-per-click ad buys, which is about connecting to users by starting conversations, advertisers buying according to CPMs mainly want to get their ads in front of the right users immediately," Bender said. "This filtering tool helps satisfy that need."

Gesture Search

Google also introduced new functionality to allow users to search Android phones with written gestures. Called Gesture Search, the new Google Labs application lets a user find a contact, an installed application, a bookmark or a music track by drawing alphabet gestures on the touch screen, Google's blog post said. "Say you want to call your friend Anne. Just open Gesture Search and draw letter A, and Gesture Search returns a list of items that have words starting with A."

Google has taken into account differences in handwriting as well - some people's A's, for example, may render like H's. If the application is uncertain as to the user’s intent it will also pull up H results as well.

Search by Stars

Google also introduced a new search feature to mark content - stars. Users click the star marker on any search result or map and the next time a search is executed that item will appear in a list right at the top of the results when relevant, Google said.

Plus One Rumor About Real Time Indexing

Perhaps more exciting is not the formal announcements of the last week - but the rumor that Google is developing a system to enable web publishers to automatically submit new content for indexing within seconds of that content being published, according to ReadWriteWeb. "Last Fall we were told by Google's Brett Slatkin, lead developer on the PubSubHubbub (PuSH) real time syndication protocol, that he hoped Google would some day use PuSH for indexing the web instead of the crawling of links that has been the way search engines have indexed the web for years."

"Google senior product manager Dylan Casey said [last week] at Sullivan's Search Marketing Expo in Santa Clara, California that the company plans to soon publish a standard way for site owners to participate in a program much like that."

A Real Time Google Index PuSH will be a big benefit for small publishers, Slatkin says, as most small sites get visited by Google maybe once a week.

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