Unraveling the Logic of AdSense: A Historical Rundown of Google’s Influential Ad Tool


Aug: Google’s targeted keyword advertising appears on the search results page
Oct: Google launches AdWords, a self-service ad buying system that expands their keyword advertising program

(top query: nostradamus)
Google expands search service and partners with several companies; notably Yahoo, Sprint, Vodafone, and AT&T

2002 (top query: spiderman)
Feb: Google introduces PPC pricing for AdWords customers
20% project which would become AdSense begins
AdSense prototype completed

2003 (top query: britney spears)
AdSense testing begins
Mar: Google launches AdSense for direct publishers
Mar: Google contextual ads begin appearing on non-search websites
Apr: Google buys Applied Semantics, an ad targeting and text processing technology company
Jun: AdSense, is now a self-serve system that lets publishers place contextual ads on their own pages

2004 (top query: britney spears)
Apr: Google begins testing preview release of Gmail
May: Google adds image ads

2005 (top query: Myspace)
Jan: Google releases beta version of AdWords API
Apr: Google introduces site targeting for AdWords, a feature that lets advertisers target specific sites with their ads
Apr: Google adds animated image ads
May: Google introduces AdSense ads for RSS and Atom feeds
Nov: Google introduces on-site advertiser signup, a feature that lets AdSense publishers recruit advertisers directly from their own websites
Nov: Google offers separate bidding for Google network sites and content sites

Jan: Google buys radio advertising provider dMarc
Feb: Google testing click-to-call ads
Mar: Google introduces local business ads
Apr: Google launches mobile keyword ads in Japan

Explaining the origin of Google’s AdSense is easy. But explaining the influence it’s had on the entire online advertising industry since it was introduced in 2003 isn’t so. So being the lazy journalist that I am, I’ll explain the former in the hopes that it will help you glean some insight for the latter.


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