As the New York Times points out, Google and "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane have cut a major new deal to create short cartoons, embedding ads in the pieces, and distributing them via AdSense. Intriguingly, the distribution will be automated, with computer software identifying Google partners whose web sites skew toward young, male readers. This is part of Google's trend toward posting original content on the web; as Fortune reported two weeks ago, YouTube representatives were spotted roaming around the Los Angeles Film Festival, courting directors who might want to post long-form features on YouTube. It's also clearly an effort to reorient its advertising policy away from the "click-through" model and back toward the eyeballs model, charging fees for advertisers based on the number of people who see the ad, rather than those who see the ad and then click on the link to get more information.
Information Week has a nice roundup on the range of opinion over whether this strategy will pay off. John Battlelle hates the idea, arguing that the web works virally, and pushing content on people based on demographics, rather than letting users naturally find and pick the most entertaining web content, is sure to "fail utterly." On the other hand, Internet content guru Cythia Brumfield thinks marrying content and distribution in one company has been shown to work historically, although the deal is likely to bleed money for a few years. In additions, she argues, this effort could mount a serious challenge to movie studios and cable television stations.