Google's AdWords gets API beta

Search giant says the software will allow advertisers to more closely tailor ad content to reflect specific needs.

Matt Hines Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Matt Hines
covers business software, with a particular focus on enterprise applications.
Matt Hines
2 min read
Search giant Google has released an application development tool to its advertising partners in an effort to help them better monitor online-ad performance.

Google released a free test version of an API, or application program interface, to advertisers late Thursday, as it continues to expand efforts to help partners tap into its successful AdWords business.

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The goal is to make it easier for companies buying ads on its site to track and predict placement trends for all its so-called "sponsored links." Google has drawn praise and bolstered its revenue via the AdWords program, through which advertisers bid to purchase the rights to certain words or phrases that generate ads for their companies when they are entered in Google's search engine.

Google is known to have been testing use of the API with some of its largest advertisers since at least November 2004. Some industry watchers have criticized the company for being somewhat late to the game with the effort. Its chief rival in the so-called contextual advertising space, Overture Services, has offered its advertising clients the same amenity for several years.

The search giant called the API beta program an "open invitation to developers to explore new concepts and then write great software" to manage their AdWords campaigns. Google said the API will allow advertisers to more closely tailor ad content to reflect specific needs. The API, for example, will let advertisers create customized reporting tools that offer more detail on how successful their ads have been.

In a note to its advertising customers, members of Google's software engineering team said they are only too happy to encourage the company's partners to drive further innovation of AdWords.

"Despite all the development we've done for our AdWords program, much more remains to be built," product manager Josh McFarland and software engineer Nelson Minar said in the statement.

"An API enables the creation of all sorts of unanticipated ideas. In our experience, it's better to wear 'not invented here' as a badge of honor than as a chip on your shoulder."

The Google team said the AdWords API should also give third-party advertising companies the ability to build more complex interfaces into the software used to control their client's sponsored links.