Google claims its third-party verification is ‘best in class’ as it launches new ad features

As it weathers the storm of several high-profile brands dropping their advertising, Google is launching new ad features aimed at giving more clarity on whether campaigns are resonating.

Google has launched two new ad features in a bid to give its advertisers more clarity on whether their campaigns are resonating with consumers.

The ‘Unique Reach’ feature in AdWords will allow advertisers to see the number of unique users and average impressions-per-user across devices, screens and platforms.

It is also adding an option that allows advertisers to understand in real-time whether their ads are holding the attention of their audience and the ones most likely to make an impact. Google says while this will break down age and gender, it won’t dissect users on an individual basis. It clarifies: “Our reporting will happen pretty real time but not instantaneously for these two new features.”

Speaking to Marketing Week, Debbie Weinstein, global managing director of YouTube & video solutions, says the new features fit in with the online giant’s new focus on the relationship between viewability and audibility.

She explains: “We’re really keen to explore that relationship [between viewability and audibility]. We want to help determine if someone saw an ad but didn’t hear it or heard it but didn’t see it, and what is the different level of impact these different outcomes buy.”

The viewability debate

According to Google its viewability levels on YouTube grew to 93% globally in 2016, up from 91% in 2015. Across the web that figure grew from 54% in 2015 to 66% in 2016. And Weinstein says the new features are “just the beginning” on improving its viewability features.

“What our customers really want to know next is whether they really achieved cut through,” she adds.

“Stuff like ‘Did I capture the emotion of the story?’ will be key, so reach is part one and the next step for Google will be creating features that show advertisers if a consumer has heard it, watched it and how long it holds their attention emotionally.”

We’ve done a lot of work on improving our third-party verification and our work is the best in class.

Debbie Weinstein, Google

The likes of Unilever have previously claimed a view shouldn’t count unless a user has watched 100% of a video ad. Yet Weinstein says Google is committed to providing advertisers with their “own choice” on what constitutes as a view, although she concedes it would be “easier” if the industry followed “one clear standard”.

Brand security

The launch of the two new AdWords features comes at a difficult time for Google. Last week brands including The Guardian and Channel 4 dropped their advertising from Google over fears their content was appearing next to extremist videos. And today (20 March), M&S followed suit. It states: “In order to ensure brand safety, we are pausing activity across Google platforms while the matter is worked through.”

READ MORE: Brand safety online – Can it ever be guaranteed?

Weinstein, who was speaking to Marketing Week before brands started to cut their advertising, said she was “very aware” of brand safety concerns. However, she claimed the likes of Procter & Gamble’s Marc Pritchard do back Google despite very public criticism of digital advertising metrics.

She concludes: “We’ve done a lot of work on improving our third-party verification and Marc said the work we are doing is the best in class.

“We feel very clear we have a big responsibility to make sure ad partners feel confident the data we report is accurate and that our ad platform is secure. We are working with our customers to ensure they feel comfortable daily.”