'There’s clearly some confusion': Google's sprawling menu of ad products is so confusing some advertisers didn't know how to make buys

Getty / Laura CavanaughSridhar Ramaswamy is Google’s svp of ads.
  • Google is revamping its ads business, which includes killing the DoubleClick brand, the company’s widely used ad-serving technology.
  • Google’s ad business is sprawling and touches everything from search to video and display, making it hard for advertisers to understand what they’re paying for and how to buy it.
  • Google Ads is the new name for Google AdWords and “is the front door for all advertisers to buy on Google services,” Sridhar Ramaswamy, svp of ads, told reporters on Tuesday.

Google wants to make it easier for brands to understand its complex advertising ecosystem, so the company is overhauling how its ad products and services are organised and sold.

At a press event on Tuesday, Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google’s svp of ads, announced a new structure for its ads business. Google’s extensive list of ad offerings-which spans search, display, video and app-install ads-is hard for advertisers, publishers and agencies to navigate, he said.

“The opportunity [with advertising] has never been greater but it’s also never been more complicated,” he said. “It is harder for advertisers, publishers and agencies that help them choose the right products for their business and know how to use them.”

In one instance, Ramaswamy said some advertisers don’t understand how to buy YouTube ad placements through Google’s AdWords. “There’s clearly some confusion,” he said. “Making a brand change that in many ways represents the current reality of the problems these products cause and where they need to go is a tough moment because this is such a sweeping change.”

Google’s ad business is sprawling and covers all areas of internet advertising. In 2017, parent company Alphabet’s revenue grew 23% to make up $US110.9 billion in revenue, primarily from advertising.

“When it comes to the level of an advertiser, it can be hard to understand their technology-you could easily have five different Google salespeople reaching out to you at any given time,” said Mac Delaney, senior vice president of media investment and innovation at Merkle. “When they’re that big and potentially siloed, communication can be difficult and I think they would say that, too-it’s a constant work in progress.”

RIP, DoubleClick

First, the tech giant’s search business that was formally named Google AdWords is now known as Google Ads, which is now “is the front door for all advertisers to buy on Google services,” Ramaswamy said. That includes inventory on Google’s sites, properties like Google Maps and Google Play and hundreds of publisher sites where Google works with publishers to serve ads.

Google is killing the DoubleClick brand. The newly formed Google Marketing Platform pulls together DoubleClick’s digital marketing tools and Google Analytics 360 Suite.

“The killing of the DoubleClick brand is a big deal because DoubleClick is synonymous with so much in digital advertising,” Merkle’s Delaney said. By lumping DoubleClick and Google Analytics products together, Delaney said that it makes Google look it’s angling to work more directly with brands and possibly bypassing agencies and other tech vendors. “I think this positions them as the beginning of how they’re going to be going to clients directly in a much more enterprise way.”

The changes will also affect publishers that use Google DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) and DoubleClick Ad Exchange, which are two products that publishers use to sell ads on their websites. Now publishers will work in Google Ad Manager, which integrates both products.

DFP helps publishers manage ad inventory sold through direct deals while the DoubleClick Ad Exchange is a market that powers programmatic advertising. According to Ramaswamy, publishers have already started to mesh the two systems together.

“Once upon a time, there was a huge gap between a publisher’s direct salesforce and their programmatic auction but the marketer demand for addressable advertising has moved us steadily into a future where every transaction-whether it’s negotiated or auctioned-will be programmatic,” said Jonathan Bellack, director of product management and publisher ad platforms at Google. “By bringing all of a publisher’s ad demand together in one place, we can leverage machine learning and other technologies to optimise revenue holistically.”

Taking steps against fake news

Bellack addressed how Google has come under a lot of scrutiny from publishers over fake news and its work in building trust between consumers, brands and publishers. In one example, Google is investing $US300 million into a program called Google News Initiative to support journalism. “When a consumer is presented with a bad advertising experience or an advertiser is misled into spending money on questionable inventory, a trust deficit is created and with too little trust, everyone suffers.”

As part of the broader ads reorganization, Google is rolling out a new tool called Smart Campaigns that helps small businesses that may not have their websites set up ad campaigns. The company says that machine learning can be used to crunch images and text to optimise campaigns.

In one example, Kim Spalding, general manager and product lead for small business ads at Google, explained how Google’s technology can automate website landing pages based on an advertiser’s goal.

Overall, Ramaswamy said that the changes “are not driven by one specific point of time but it’s more of a realisation that we are in a very different place than where we started.”

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