Google has just added "Onsite Advertiser Sign-up" for Adsense users. This lets Adwords advertisers target ads to specific sites on a cost-per-thousand basis. An advertiser writes an Adwords ad that is specific to the sites they target, and therefore hopefully get better click through and conversion rates.
Some Adsense users have complained that Google ought to be offering a referral bonus for signups, but I think they are missing the point: if an advertiser chooses your site for a targeted ad, presumably they do so because they see a great fit between their product and the content of your site. That should translate into more interest on the part of site visitors and more revenue all around.
Say I'm a widget maker and I want to focus on all the Widget review sites. It's a heck of a lot easier for me to do that through this than to contact each widget site individually and find out what they charge. Also, Ii'd need to audit each site individually to be sure I really am getting what I paid for. With this Google feature, I just make up a "Widget site" specific ad, and click away to have Google handle the whole thing for me.
There are problems with Google's implementation, though. You create a "landing page" on Google's site that tells advertisers what they are signing up for, but if you run multiple sites with one Adsense account as most of us do, you only get one landing page and only 384 characters in which to explain what you have to offer. At first, that bothered me quite a bit, but in thinking more about it, I realized that any advertiser doing this is likely already quite aware of how this all works, and you can probably safely leave the default description. No doubt they've looked over your site and have already decided they want to advertise with you; it's probably unnecessary to say anything yourself. If you have affiliated sites, they again probably will already know that.
What I do wish they had is a link that I could add to my own advertising pages for this purpose. I don't want the hassle of dealing with multiple advertisers either, so I have a page for them which suggests using Adwords, but I'd like to also be able to suggest this direct advertising. If I'm that Widget maker, I'm going to be searching and visiting sites - I'll want an easy way to tell Google that this is one I want to advertise on.
The competition in web advertising is really heating up. I expect we'll be seeing interesting responses from Yahoo and the others very soon. This is good news for web site owners.
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The danger of computers becoming like humans is not as great as the danger of humans becoming like computers. (Konrad Zuse)