Google, the search engine giant that built an advertising empire on the back of linking ads to its search algorithms, is now turning its attention to bringing that same success to display advertising.
The company has introduced technology that can track the 'viewability' of ads, determining whether they are potentially visible to a user and not buried at the bottom of a web page.
Google executive Andrea Faville: "How do you come up with a measurement for brand advertisers that works like clicks and conversion rates do? How do you tell whether a human being has actually seen an ad?"
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Advertisers who buy campaigns across the 2 million websites that make up the Google display network will only have to pay for their ad if at least 50 per cent of it is visible for one second or longer.
"There is a big need for more transparency online," said Joshi. "Advertisers are wanting to see more honesty about whether ads are actually being delivered to a site, whether they have been seen, and what content the ad is appearing next to."
Google stresses that its new tech is a game-changer, in that it will create an advertising product that can command a premium. However, while Google's new service seems to be an improvement in measurement in the digital display market, it still cannot confirm that someone actually saw an ad. It can only confirm that the ad was, in theory, viewable.
Google maintains that all it is doing is facilitating choice for advertisers.
"This is just one model advertisers can choose," said Faville. "For a standard branding campaign, which is about reach and getting the message to the widest possible audience, this makes a lot of sense. Our goal is to help make digital work as well for brands as it has for performance advertisers."