In one could be one of the most significant moves in the digital advertising space so far this year, Google announced that it is transitioning the Google Display Network (GDN), the largest publisher network on the internet, to a model based on viewability.
According to IAB standards, an ad is said to be viewable when 50 percent of the ad shows onscreen for one second or longer for display ads and two seconds or longer for video ads. Viewability is measured by the Active View technology on Display Network websites.
Announcing the move on the Official Google Blog, Brad Bender, VP (Product Management) of Google Display Network wrote, “Soon, we’ll make the GDN one of the only media platforms where advertisers don’t pay for an ad impression unless it was viewable. This means your media dollars will only be spent where they can have impact. In the next few months, all campaigns that buy on a CPM basis will be upgraded to be viewable CPM (vCPM).”
Reiterating this at a Q&A at the SMX East Conference, Bender said 70 billion impressions were not charged to the advertisers last year.
It is not clear what the time scale of this exercise would be, though Bender said that it would begin rolling out in “the next few weeks”. Google India had not replied to our emails at the time of publishing of this article.
Viewability has become something of a topic of discussion in digital advertising circles. In a report released by Google this year, it noted that 56 per cent of display ads are not seen by visitors; this includes 46 per cent of video ads and 65 per cent on mobile.
Other ad networks are also waking up to this issue. Yahoo, in June, said it would allow third party independent viewability and fraud measurement for display and video advertising on Yahoo O&O properties, as well as media purchased across its programmatic buying platform. Earlier this year, it was reported that Kellogg’s had reduced budgets with partners who did not allow third party verification of ad performance, which includes viewability. Interestingly, neither Google nor Facebook, two of the largest platforms on the internet, allow third party verification.
Digital advertising companies we spoke to hailed the decision as good for the entire ecosystem.
“This is certainly a welcome move and will have a positive impact on both the brands and the digital advertising industry. Any further insights, analytics and transparency is bound to generate greater interest of brands in the choice of media. Google has been the industry driver as well as trend setter, so I think this initiative is the in the right direction. Digital industry has been thriving hard for few years to increase the brand spends and these kind of initiatives will help to attain that,” opined Amit Gupta, Managing Partner at Httpool.
Lavin Punjabi, President at Affinity, also felt that it was a positive development. “This is a great step towards making digital advertising more accountable. Advertisers will not waste money on non viewable ads, consumers will always see the ad and publishers will earn more in the long run. Viewability is finally being taken seriously with Google leading the effort and demonstrating the willingness to risk giving away non-measurable impressions/chunk of revenue for the sake of stronger digital advertising ecosystem, brands will feel safe investing in. At the same time publishers will have to change as layout and positioning (like below the fold ads and hidden ads). In the long run the good publishers will get good CPM’s and bad publishers will be severely penalized,” he said.
Rohan Patil, MD at AppLift, said the move will benefit advertisers and agencies by helping them better measure efficiency of their campaigns and optimize spends while fostering an environment of trust which will aid publishers in the long run as brand advertisers spend more.
“After all, the whole point of online advertising, as opposed to offline or TV, is to be able to measure its performance accurately, and it’s no wonder that viewability has been on everyone’s radar for some time,” he opined.