Google: ‘Video is starting to move programmatic inventory’

Google has downplayed stuttering online ad rates by highlighting the momentum behind its programmatic business sparked by video as it steps up efforts to address concerns around viewability.

Advertisers are investing more in programmatic video, according to Google’s latest results, buoyed by increased takeup of the DoubleClick demand-side-platform. The service, which is Google’s primary frontend for programmatic buying, has doubled in volume over the past year.

Much of the growth has been driven by widespread reappraisal of media buying across the industry. Companies such as Procter & Gamble, Mondelez and Kellogg’s are shifting more of their digital spend toward programmatic, tapping additional budgets from TV and display to bolster the push.

Omid Kordestani, interim business officer at Google, told analysts during its fourth quarter earnings call yesterday evening (29 January), that it was well placed to capitalise on the surge in popularity of video ads. The search business unveiled its own programmatic video marketplace for a group of select partners last year, promising to connect premium publishers and brands through direct buying.

“We’re seeing that video, the ultimate brand medium, is starting to move to programmatic as well,” added Kordestani. “After launching in June of 2014, Google Partner Select, our premium programmatic video marketplace now has more than 50 publisher partners including Hearst Television, and Food Network, and includes brands like BMW.”

For programmatic video buying to be widely embraced by brands, there needs to be stricter viewbaility standards. It is a thought not lost on Google, which said new tools to help marketers address the issue are on the way.

“Nothing else matters if a human did not see your ad. This is the top question for the industry and at Google we are doing our part to address it,” said Kordestani. “Since July, we have been rolling out viewability report across our ad platforms, so that brands will know whether their video ads on digital channels were actually seen or not. We recently extended this activity reporting to video ads.”

It would seem large advertisers are finding the additional insight useful. For example, Kellogg’s used DoubleClick to buy their inventory programmatically and increased their ad viewability by 70 per cent.

Kordestani revealed the company has run 6,000 brand lift surveys around its programmatic campaigns to help determine brand recall and purchase intent.

Mondelez was one of the advertisers to take part in the study last year when it wanted to measure the effectiveness of a recent digital campaign for the launch of a gum brand. The snack maker, which has a global video advertising deal with Google, gained a 36 per cent lift in brand awareness versus a control group, and a 97 per cent lift in ad recall versus a control group.

“Getting these types of feedback in real time is impossible with offline media. This sets digital apart,” added Kordestani.

Online videos are a big revenue spinner for technology companies, particularly those like Google, which have struggle to premiumise its mobile inventory.

Google’s advertising revenues were knocked by consumers’ increased use of mobile devices, on which a rates are lower than what it has traditionally commanded on desktop.

The average price of online ads fell 3 per cent year-on-year in the three months to December, despite a 14 per cent increase in consumer clicks. The business is hoping a suite of recently launched ad formats can breathe new life into its offering, tackling niggling issues around customer experience and creativity for display ads that it feels have hampered mobile’s growth.

Google's announcement comes ahead of Facebook’s Doubleclick rival, which will look to snare a larger portion of ad revenues with the promise of highly targeted inventory directly off its platform.

Despite difficulties in mobile, Google continues to dominate the digital advertising arena by some margin. It saw revenue climb 25 per cent year-on-year to $45.53bn in 2014, in comparison to Facebook’s faster growing but still small $11.35bn, up 39 per cent, according to eMarketer.

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