Google’s Report on Ad Viewability is Self-Serving, Not Surprising

Last week, Google raised some eyebrows when it published this Infographic, highlighting some new research the company has performed on display ad viewability. While the report provided some cool data about optimal ad position (just above the fold– not at the top of the page) and ad sizes (those 300×250’s we push? Lowest viewability of them all), the one thing everyone seemed to take from it was this: 56.1% of all impressions are not viewed.

Fan-freaking-tastic. Another statistic for clients to bring up in status calls– leaving us to once again defend the value of display.

Image via Google

Whatever…. we’ll deal with it. After all, this revelation can’t possibly come as much of a shock to those of us who work in the industry. We realize, through programmatic & network buys, that not all of our ads will be shown in optimal places or in front of ideal audiences. Nature of the beast, as it were. However, as long as these campaigns meet or exceed our clients’ goals, we don’t think about that too much (not there’s much we can do about it, were we to).

I did, though, find the presentation of this data by Google rather, well, suspect. After all, they do make boatloads of cash through display advertising– whether it be ad serving (DART) or programmatic (DoubleClick Bid Manager) or as an ad net (Google Display Network); so, why would Google want advertisers to know they are “wasting” money?? And, on top of everything, this data wasn’t buried in some press release on a Friday evening– Google went out of their way to make this pretty (it’s a GD Infographic!).

Google didn’t release this study to scare advertisers, though (that would be insane); instead, the company’s intent? To get you to buy more Google products (OF COURSE!).

First up, we have the Google Display Network. While many advertisers are getting access to this inventory via CPM buys on DSPs, the bulk of the GDN is purchased on a CPC. Viewability matters little if you’re only paying for clicks, and not impressions– and given there are few major ad nets out there willing to sell inventory on a cost per click, Google hopes you’ll bring more ad dollars their way.

The second reason for Google publishing this ad viewability report is their Active View product. Active View was rolled out on the GDN late last year, to give advertisers the ability to see not only how many impressions were served, but how many of those could be seen by site visitors. Back in July, this Active View feature was integrated into the DoubleClick platform as well, to bring this data to agencies across all their media buys. 

Active View hasn’t itself garnered much attention from digital marketing folks; but, I’m willing to bet that Google hopes raising awareness of the lack of viewability of ads with advertisers themselves will boost interest.

What do you think about Google’s ad viewability study? Any surprises and/or interesting info to come from it?