How Google aims to win-over both skeptical advertisers and consumers, plus a look inside its early blockchain experiments

Google will make a ‘big push’ to align how privacy is articulated to the public

With Facebook in the dock over serious data breaches, Google executives took to the Advertising Week stage speaking of efforts to highlight its privacy prowess to the public, provide better measurement to TV advertisers, and its latest blockchain experiments.

Google was pilloried 12 months ago as News Corp-owned The Times published an exposé bringing to the surface the long-standing brand safety time-bomb, just as the entire advertising industry’s attention was trained on London.

However, 12 months later, and its ‘duopoly-mate’ is more firmly under the spotlight, with the controversy surrounding the Cambridge Analytics affair – another case of well-known risks (among those in the digital sector) brought to the boil though mainstream media exposure.

The comparative lack of controversy left Google representatives more at ease on stage during Advertising Week with Sridhair Ramaswamy, Google, senior vice president, ads and commerce, plus Matt Brittin, Google, president, EMEA, explaining some of its latest initiatives.

This includes continued efforts to win approval among the traditional TV industry – after a rebuttal from the UK establishment last year – attempts to assuage the growing skepticism of an increasingly data-savvy public. And yes, an early insight to its experiments with the buzzword du jour – blockchain.

Facing questions from the crowd, which contained industry luminaries such as trade body officials, senior brand-side marketers, plus media owners Ramaswamy (below left) and Brittin (below, right) spoke of some of its latest efforts.

YouTube still wants to win-over the TV industry

A year after its submission to Barb-accreditation – the outfit charged with TV viewership measurement – was rejected in the UK, the YouTube-owner is still attempting to gain approval from the trade body.

Its earlier overtures were rebuffed with reports citing YouTube’s apparent refusal with third-party measurement as well as opposing views on whether average viewing figures, or total minutes viewed were more worthwhile metrics.

Asked whether or not Google was “committed to creating something that the whole industry can believe in,” the behemoth’s EMEA chief Brittin reiterated that it was still looking to achieve Barb accreditation.

“I know that Ronan [Harris, Google's MD, UK] and his team here are working incredibly hard to get Barb accreditation ... but you know, there are some challenges in the dynamics of that and we know from talking to advertisers and industry bodies that you really want to see that,” he added. “We really want to see that and we have three large teams ready to do the technical work on that.”

Google’s ‘big push’ to align how privacy is articulated to the public

Also facing questions from the Advertising Week audience about how Google intends to articulate its data and advertising policies to the public Ramaswamy said 2018 would see “a big push” when it comes to communicating how users can access and set their privacy settings through its My Account offering.

“So we are doing a big push this year to unify things like the branding that we put on Google icon, My Account, from all the different apps and web applications that you use so that there is a simple way for you to get your My Account from any app, from any web page,” he said.

“We also want to make sure that my My Account is organized to be a lot more consumer-friendly. Right now, it's a set of great options, but they're kind of sparse and forbidding for like security and privacy.”

Google’s early blockchain research

Earlier this week, it emerged that the ad industry had seen (what participants had claimed) was the industry’s first successful deployment of an advertising campaign using blockchain smart contract technology. This prompted audience members to inquire Google’s view on the role of such technology in the advertising and transactions space, particularly on whether or not it is scaleable?

Ramaswamy explained that the online advertising behemoth has commissioned a small team to research the topic, although he added that “it’s super-early to say where they [the experiments] are going to become products just yet”.

He went on to add: “The core blockchain technology is not something that is super-scalable in terms of the sheer number of transactions that it can run without a number of proposals about additional layers that can be built on blockchain to increase the amount of throughput that you can get from it.”

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.