That's not measurement

Google gained unwanted attention for its alleged lack of adherence to its own policies within Google Video Partners. The industry's problem is much larger.

Travis Lusk
Travis Lusk

According to research by Adalytics and coverage from the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, Google - yes, the one that used to have the “Don’t be evil” motto - violated its own promised standards for video ad placements on third-party websites about 80% of the time.

But Google, in a shocking turn of events, disputes these claims. Go figure!

You can see tons of #fail screenshots in the original report.

Their statement was essentially: "These claims are inaccurate, and we are saints protecting the advertisers." I might have added the saints part, but you get the idea.

Ad buyers who expected Google to deliver on its promises are, let's say, slightly peeved. They are now asking for refunds, probably using Google's email system, thus completing a nice little circle of irony.

Big names like Johnson & Johnson, American Express, Samsung, and Sephora are allegedly caught up in this debacle. Even ads for government agencies - I'm talking about you, Medicare and U.S. Army.

So, let's break this down:

  1. Google promises ad placement subject to controls and quality standards.
  2. Google allegedly delivers less than premium.
  3. Brands feel cheated.
  4. Brands are told by the search giant that most of the video ads it sells are served on YouTube, not third-party sites.

But hey, don’t worry. Google says it takes appropriate actions to prevent this. So, everything's cool, right?

Maybe it's time we start using Bing instead. Ha, just kidding - Bing, you’re adorable. Keep trying.

These impressions are not inexpensive afterthoughts either. According to the WSJ’s sources, the average cost for 1,000 completed video views is $100. Not cheap.

How does this happen?

Let me just put this out there: when you're buying media, the motto should be "buyer beware," not "buyer be-where-the-hell-are-my-ads-running."

If we were to assume that the Adalytics allegations are true (or mostly true), the reason these issues get out of control are the following:

  1. Media buyer ignorance
  2. Uniformed reliance on “measurement” companies
  3. Perverse market incentives

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