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Google branches into expandable ads

Company is offering ad units that will expand to cover much of a Web page if, and only if, a user clicks the original embedded ad.

Google is testing expandable ads that take up greater real estate when clicked on by site visitors.

Google is expanding its AdSense program--literally.

The Web search giant announced Wednesday in a blog post that it is pitching advertisers on the use of expandable ad units, those adverts that start out as banners or square ads and launch larger ads that cover much of the Web site's content. However, Google says that unlike the most annoying variety, these expandable ads won't enlarge on their own or with a simple mouse-over; users will have to click on the smaller ad to get the larger ad.

Many users may find expandable ads annoying, but as Google points out, the format could be valuable to both advertisers and customers when used to show movie trailers, video game clips, or other images that require greater emphasis on detail.

Google said that advertisers are automatically eligible to use the expandable ads if they have added AdSense code to their site's source code and enabled image ads. Google also noted that the program is currently available only to specific advertisers in the U.S. that can bid on specific ad placement.

Google reminded advertisers that earnings will be based on whether they use cost-per-click ads (CPC) or cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) ads. CPC expandable ads will generate earnings when a user clicks through to the advertiser's landing page--not when a user simply clicks to expand the ad. Google has created an FAQ page with more information for advertisers.

The expandable ads aren't likely to make a Google earnings skyrocket, but because they require user interaction to expand, they also aren't likely to create animosity from consumers.