Google took a major step toward pleasing its advertisers Thursday by announcing it will now sell display ads based on viewability, a metric that will allow marketers to pay only for ad slots users are likely to see.
As we’ve mentioned in the past, it’s estimated that nearly half of all online advertisements are placed in spots where users aren’t able to see them, meaning that brands were often paying for ad impressions that were either too far down on a page to be seen by a human being or fraudulently hidden behind other content.
In a post on its AdWords blog, Google said its customers will now be able to make real-time display ad purchases that only include impressions that meet the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s viewability standard. The IAB designates a viewable ad as any impression where at least of half of the ad is viewable on the page for one second or more.
Viewability has been a major initiative of Google’s for some time. In April, the company excitedly announced that it would sell reservable inventory — specific ad spaces companies can purchase before anyone visits a webpage — on a viewable basis.
The news today makes Google the first major online ad network to offer viewable impressions to its customers who purchase display ads via an automated real-time auction that begins when a user visits a webpage. There are more than 2 million websites using Google technology to sell ads as part of the Google Display Network.
As a result, Google will be able to charge customers higher prices because its Active View technology can guarantee that every impression a customer pays for will be visible to the user. Even at a higher cost, marketers could be compelled to shift ad budgets from safer mediums like print and television given the added degree of assurance provided by viewable impression buys. According to a recent survey, 88 per cent of marketers think viewability will be a major issue in the coming year.
The news also gives the Google Display Network a boost against rivals like Twitter and Facebook, whose newsfeed ads are strategically placed where customers are most likely to look, anyway.
Viewability has been a controversial topic in online advertising circles, with the Media Rating Council advising marketers to use a different metric until it has determined an industry-wide standard as to what constitutes a viewable impression. In spite of this warning, some individual publishers have been selling ads on a viewable basis, with companies like Spider.io and RealVu advising marketers on which spaces to buy.
Google’s announcement of widespread viewability sales could encourage other ad networks and publishers to follow suit, which could then eliminate the need for smaller companies to provide advice on the subject.
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