Contextual Content Server, Courtesy of Google?

Earlier this week, Google announced Ad serving for everyone, the opening up of their Ad Manager tool to all comers.

Ad Manager can help you sell, schedule, deliver, and measure both directly-sold and network-based inventory.

# Ad network management: Easily manage your third-party ad networks in Ad Manager to automatically maximize your network driven revenue.

# Day and Time Targeting: Don’t want your orders to run on weekends? No problem. With day and time targeting, you can set any new line items you create to run only during specific hours or days, or as little as 15 minutes per week. Use day and time targeting in addition to geography, bandwidth, browser, user language, operating system, domain and custom targeting.

There’s an excellent video overview and basic tutorial here: Google Ad Manager Introduction. (If that doesn’t work for you, here’s a text based tutorial from somewhere else….)

In part, the Ad Manager allows you to use your own ads with Google’s ad serving technology, which can deliver ads according to:
* Browser version
* Browser language
* Bandwidth
* Day and time
* Geography (Country, region or state, metro, and city)
* Operating system
* User domain

If you can provide custom tagging information (e.g. by adding information from a personal profile into the ad code on the page displayed to the user) then the Ad Manager can also be used to provide custom targeting according to the tags you have available.

So here’s what I’m thinking – can we use the Google Ad Manager service to deliver contextualised content to users? That is, create “ad” areas on a page, and deliver our own “content ads” to it through the Google Ad Manager.

So for example, we could have a contentAd sidebar widget on a Moodle VLE page; we could add a custom tag into the widget relating to a particular course; and we could serve course related “ad” content through the Ad Manager.

By running the content of a page through a content analyser (such as Open Calais, which now offers RESTful calls via HTTP POST), or looking on a site such as delicious to see what the page has been tagged with, we can generate ‘contextual tags’ to further customise the content delivery.

So what? So think of small chunks of content as “contentAds”, and use the Google Ad Manager to serve that content in a segmented, context specific way to your users… ;-)

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...