After what PaidContent says is at least four months testing, Google is to officially launch its video ads programme. The new format, which is deliberately unobtrusive until the user clicks on the ad and activates the video stream, is being described by Reuters and others as "pay per click video".
Palpably, it is no such thing. "Pay per click" in SEM means paying every time a user is tracked clicking through to the advertiser's own website, clearly signalling engagement with a commercial opportunity in the context of a direct and immediate intention to buy. "Pay per call" means paying when people seeing an ad call a dedicated, tracked telephone number. Calling videos that merely start to play when the user clicks them "pay per click" is disingenuous - this isn't a response-based ad service like AdWords, it's another shot by Google at that elusive diversification out of its only meaningful revenue stream.
A couple of months ago I commented on how badly Google had failed to transfer the value of its long tail of AdWords advertisers into print. Google bought up some spare print ad space and tried to sell it to the AdWords network, only discovering during the course of the experiment that print advertising simply isn't set up to deliver the sort of direct, measurable response that is at the heart of AdWords buying decisions. Fair enough. We live, we learn about ROI, we move on.
Now Google is trying to pull off the same trick in another medium, selling brand-led ad slots to response-driven advertisers. Possibly it will work better than in print - there is at least something to measure this time and response-hungry buyers will be able to see how often and for how long users engaged with their video ad footage. But the same problem as faced Google in print remains - a fundamental mismatch between the values of the advertising constituency they've captured and the values of the medium they're now encouraging that constituency to use.
Update: TechCrunch says something broadly similar and gives Google's alleged "pay per click" video the thumbs down. Looks like "Google gets it wrong again" isn't even the contrarian view...