In a move that makes perfect sense -- and cents -- Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) personal finance portal is cranking out text ads from its contextually relevant Google AdWords platform.
In other words, looking up a quote on regional amusement park operator Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN ) will bring up all of the analytical candy that investors typically get from the site, along with a boxed-in ad for theme park tickets. Punch in Roomba maker iRobot's (Nasdaq: IRBT ) ticker symbol, and you'll get an ad for a blowout sale on robotic vacuum cleaners.
It's a no-brainer move for Google. If any audience can sympathize with a company's pursuit of monetizing Web traffic it has to be the stock-savvy Google Finance crowd.
Google Finance rolled out the ads yesterday.
Is it a case of lousy timing? With the financial services sector getting slammed, potentially drying up the ad dollars of institutions that would normally jump at the chance to reach Google Finance users, it may appear that the dot-com behemoth is unfashionably late here.
Not so fast. TheStreet.com (Nasdaq: TSCM ) posted an 18% gain in online ad revenue this past quarter. Online revenue at Bankrate (Nasdaq: RATE ) shot up a stratospheric 95% in the third quarter.
In other words, this is a great time for Google Finance to take the tarp off. Even noninvestors are hungry for personal finance news these days, and Google Finance is there to handle the likely surge in traffic. If advertisers aren't desperate enough to outbid one another, Google can simply make it up in volume.
Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) has been monetizing its popular Yahoo! Finance portal for years, but it relies mostly on display advertising. It is Yahoo!'s marketing strength, but I doubt it will be as effective as what Google Finance is doing. Whether I'm checking on a quote for Cedar Fair or iRobot, Yahoo! Finance spits back a predictable assortment of ads for discount brokers and credit card companies. Google's approach makes more sense. If I'm an investor in Cedar Fair -- which I am -- there's a "fair" chance that I also like to frequent amusement parks (which I do). An iRobot shareholder may not be in the market for a new Roomba, but checking up on sale prices for holiday gifting purposes or simply to gauge the marketplace makes sense.
It all adds -- or ads -- up for Google.
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