Californian internet giant Google announced a change to their client advertising strategy, allowing users and marketers to opt-in to pay only for online ads that are deemed ‘viewable’ and guaranteed to be seen by website visitors and search engine users.
What does the change mean for Google Adwords advertisers?
In October 2013, Google released changes to its Ad Rank structure, affecting just search advertisements appearing on Google Search. Ad Rank is the corporation’s deciding factor as to whether a marketer’s ad is shown with extensions and formats, changing the way advertising is viewed by internet users and searchers.
Instead of the number of ads you submit to Google’s Display Network determining the exposure, cost and reliability of your online advertising campaign, marketers are now charged for the ‘viewability’ of their offering, decreasing the unpredictability of a strategy’s success.
With more than two million websites in the Google Display Network involved with this new buying option, ads appearing on webpages and search engine results pages are no longer categorised by their position above or below ‘the fold’, but on whether or not they are visible to users in relation to where they are on a page. The accountability of the ad’s ‘viewability’ resides on whether or not at least 50% of the ad is visible in the position a page viewer is rested, for one second or longer. For example, the owner of a banner positioned at the bottom of a webpage will not be charged for their ad if a visitor to the page reads only the first few paragraphs of the site and then clicks away.
James Beser, of Google, said as he launched this new visibility model in time for the christmas search surge: “even the jingliest, jolliest ad of the season can’t work its magic unless it gets seen,” placing the emphasis firmly on the company’s updated strategy of the ‘Viewability’ – not position or amount – of ads.
Advertisers and marketers now have the option to buy ad space based on the projected viewing figures attributed to how visible it is on any given page, not how many times the page is visited overall, moving away from the previous model. Only paying for these impressions where and when your ad is guaranteed to be seen is now listed as an option within the bidding and budget page of Google AdWords, yet with comScore reporting that nearly half of all online advertisement are never seen by website visitors, it is difficult to imagine why anyone would need the be presented with the choice not to use it.
This new ad model is based on Active View, a viewability measurement solution accredited by the Media Rating Council, which works as an algorithmic review of publisher sites, to ensure that the most prominent pages and positions for ads are given priority and visibility. Rivaling the exposure of Facebook and Twitter advertising, where publicity and sponsored posts are placed directly within a user’s Newsfeed and Timeline to force engagement, Google can now charge marketers only when an impression has been categorically registered.
As the first major digital ad network to release this type of advertising strategy update, Google anticipate, that as the model is implemented and refined across all platforms and layouts. The cost of publicity is likely to rise, as the demand for guaranteed visible space – i.e a header banner, splash page or pop-up – will outweigh supply, and prices will increase to cover the ‘empty’ space left behind by unseen ads. This may be bad news for small businesses who face being priced out of the online advertising market by larger companies who have a larger budget for CPM auctions across desktop, mobile and tablet in order to secure prominent and consistently visible ad space.