We're very excited to announce the release of click-to-play video ads on the content network. Here's Bismarck, from the Video Ads team, with the details on this new feature:

In the coming days, we will be adding click-to-play video ads to the line-up of text, Flash and image ad formats currently supported by the Google content network. At launch, video ads will be available to AdWords advertisers in the US, Canada and Japan - but we plan to roll them out to other regions shortly.

Now, let's talk about the details.

First, as with all AdWords ad formats, video ads will compete for placement on sites in the Google content network with other text, Flash and image ads -- and, as with our other image ad placements, you can choose to bid on a CPC or CPM basis.

Second, these ads will be supported by both site- and keyword-targeted campaigns. You can choose to serve your video ad on a specific site or on pages in our content network that relate to your product or service. As always, you have the ability to geo-target your video ads internationally, nationally, or locally.

Finally, unlike some intrusive advertising, users will have complete control. When a page loads, only a static image will be visible; the video will not start playing until the user initiates it. He or she will be able to advance the video, pause it, adjust the volume or click through to the advertiser's site, as you can see in the example below:

But, you may say, video is only for big branding oriented advertisers. We beg to differ. This feature makes video ads much more accessible to all advertisers. Now, an owner of a small bed & breakfast in Lake Tahoe can put a video tour of his beautiful chalet right next to an article that talks about skiing the epic slopes of Squaw Valley.

We hope you'll keep your eyes out for this new feature and let us know what you think.