Google Attempts To Reinvent Display Advertising
You might not think that this is a very big reinvention actually but the advertising world is finding it all pretty exciting. The basic problem is with display advertising, the type that a company will use to try and boost brand image in the marketplace. That problem is that no one’s really sure how much of it that anyone sees: indeed, for much of it no one is even sure that anyone at all sees it. Thus Google GOOG -0.6% is suggesting a change to ensure that payments are only triggered when someone could at least potentially see it:
According to Anant Joshi, director of digital analytics business Meetrics, currently up to half of all online display ads are never seen by web users.
But in a move Joshi says can only be positive for the industry, Google, which has built an advertising empire on the back of linking ads to its devilishly clever search algorithm, is now turning its attention to bringing some of that same rigour to display advertising.
“A big focus for us is making digital ads work for brand advertisers,” said Google executive Andrea Faville. “How do you come up with a measurement for brand advertisers that works like clicks and conversion rates do? How do you tell whether a human being has actually seen an ad?”
The company has introduced technology that can track the “viewability” of ads, to determine whether they are actually potentially visible to a user and not buried at the bottom of a web page.
I should in the interests of completeness, point out that this includes some of the advertising on this site, on Forbes.
Traditionally everyone in the advertising and marketing game has known (or at least, so the slightly cynical tale goes) that half of their budget is entirely wasted. The problem is that no one ever knew which half. Then along came the web and the statistics on what was actually working became much better. We could look at click through rates for example, or the number that went on to actually do something. Ask for samples, complete a purchase, fill out the request for more information and so on. And it’s also true that AdWords provides very good metrics by which to judge the success or not of a campaign. But that still leaves this display advertising.
No action is necessary to interact with this sort of advertising. That’s not what it is about: it’s more about pummeling the brand name through your eyeballs and into your brain than anything else. But as above, there’s a definite thought that some half of all such advertising that is being charged for isn’t actually ever seen by anyone. It might be at the bottom of a page that no one scrolls down to for example (to give one entirely innocent possible explanation, other more nefarious ones are possible).
So, Google’s suggestion is simply that ads will only be charged for when it can be shown that someone could at least conceivably actually have seen it. Metrics like the position on the page (did the reader scroll that far?), time on page (did they bounce out immediately, realizing they were on the wrong page?) will all be considered. It doesn’t, as I say, sound particularly like a revolution in advertising. But it’s been more than a century since the first time that remark about half the budget being wasted was made. It’s about time that total and complete waste was no longer charged for really.