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Google today unwrapped an new advertising programme with a twist - the ads are relevant! In Googlespeak, these are "content-targeted ads" - nothing new about that, is there? But Google has, as it did before with news and link rankings, automated the process.

The Google ad server "gauges user response in the form of click-through rates to determine the order in which ads are shown. Users see the most relevant advertising first and advertisers are rewarded with average click-through rates at least five times higher than the industry average for traditional banner ads".

The service will run on Google Groups, as well as the main site. This should be interesting as click-through rates on forums are terrible, typically.

Google is also reaching out to web publishers - big ones - to take on Google's Content-Targeted Ads. This is an interesting way of reaching out beyond the portals, home of most paid-for-search placements, an area dominated by Overture alongside (in Europe) e-Spotting.

The Google pitch to publishers that it can enable them to "monetize content pages - even remnant or run-of-site inventory".

First-day signings include Knight Ridder Digital properties (San Jose Mercury News, Detroit Free Press, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer) and HowStuffWorks.

Interested? First of all your site should receive more than 20 million page views a month, then you should contact Google here. Google has put up a page here, explaining more. ®

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