Google to Support 'Viewable Impressions' and Online GRPs

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Active ViewGoogle has upped the ante in display ad measurement with products in two categories that appear to be gaining traction with large brand advertisers. The new technologies enable campaign reporting based on "viewable" impressions and GRPs, and are baked into DoubleClick’s ad management suite as part of a new product initiative called Brand Activate.

The viewable impression product, called Active View, will allow ad buyers to credit only those impressions that are visible to an end user. (The Interactive Advertising Bureau proposed the industry move to a viewable standard last September,) Google previously offered a related capability through above-the-fold targeting, which has gained considerable traction, according to Neal Mohan, VP for display ad products.

With Active View, the company joins a growing family of vendors -- including C3 Metrics, Realvu, and comScore -- that help ad buyers measure only those impressions that are potentially visible to a user. This can mean not only discounting ads that are below the fold, but also those that are rendered incompletely, hidden behind other page elements, or screened by ad blocking software, for example.

Meanwhile the new ratings point product, Active GRP, is now available to DoubleClick for Advertisers clients through a pilot program. The technology works in tandem with Active View to estimate the TV-friendly reach and frequency a campaign achieved with its target demographic through a combination of aggregated (panel) and anonymous data.

"Obviously the technology is not trivial," said Mohan. "It’s hard to do this at the scale of DoubleClick and Google. These standards need to work across the Internet, not just for graphical ads but for video [and] mobile."

Google argues it has an advantage over rivals in that brands can use insights gained through Active View and Active GRP to tweak campaigns on the fly. Mohan: “The only way you can do that is by baking it into the ad serving tool.”

But that strength could also turn out to be a weakness, since Google’s status as a media seller means it can’t come to the table as a disinterested third party – something comScore and other measurement vendors can claim. Mohan said the feedback from advertisers has not indicated any reticence over potential bias toward Google’s own products.

Google views it as crucial, he said, “not to have this just be a feature on the display network, but to have it on the DoubleClick platform, which is agnostic.”

At least one big brand is enthused. In a prepared statement shared through Google, Rick Hosfield, General Mills VP of content planning and distribution, said, “We are very interested in Google's Brand Activate initiative to help guide our understanding of how to optimize our brands’ performance in real time and across all platforms. Our interest is in identifying and using the metrics that matter most, especially those that allow for easy comparison between digital and TV.  We are excited to begin the journey and learn together."

Google is seeking Media Ratings Council accreditation for both Active View and Active GRP products.

By Zach Rodgers

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