Last April, Google launched a content recommendation tool — in the vein of Taboola and Outbrain — for publishers using AdSense to add to their websites. Unlike those other services, Google’s Matched content feature had not included ads and has only functioned to cross-promote content on publishers’ own sites — until now.
With a new beta, publishers can opt to feature promoted content from other sources by opting to “Allow ads” in a Matched content unit. Google explains in the Matched content support page:
Please note that by opting in to this beta feature you agree to let Google try out different ad types and ad sizes in your Matched content unit. Google will only show ads when they’re likely to perform well and provide a good user experience.
Above is an example from Google showing content “Promoted By” Zagat.com. The style of the ads matches that of the native content recommendations.
Google also notes that the smaller units that only show one content recommendation will not show ads. However, when ads do appear, they do not count toward Google’s ad limit per page.
Publishers will be able to track revenue from these ads in the Ad units report under the Performance reports tab in AdSense.
We predicted at the launch that Google would roll out ads once the tool got some footing. Hat tip to Johnathan Weber at Marathon Studios for spotting this.
Update 3/18 1:00pm ET: The official announcement is now on the Google AdSense blog.