Google Puts Display Front-And-Center

Google(Almost) All the big Google names came out on Tuesday to meet with members of the press and reiterate Google’s firm commitment to succeeding in display advertising. Execs presenting and answering questions were as follows – think of them as the Display Ad SWAT Team -or DA SWAT:

  • Neal Mohan, VP of Product Management
  • Henrique de Castro, VP, Global Media and Platforms
  • Barry Salzman, Managing Director of Media and Platforms, Americas
  • Brad Bender, Director of Product Management, Google Content Network
  • Eileen Naughton, Director of Media Sales and Operations, Americas
  • Lexi Reese, Director of Sales, DoubleClick Ad Exchange
  • Jonathan Bellack, Director of Product Management, Publisher products
  • Baljeet Singh, Senior Product Manager, YouTube

Not present was Susan Wojcicki, VP of Product Management, who marshals the Google display forces and makes sure everyone is on task.

Neal Mohan began with a presentation which included the Google view that all screens (digital TV, mobile, traditional online display, etc.) funnel into the display future.  In other words, it’s all display and you can be assured that Google is looking to capture as many ad dollars spent through IP (Internet Protocol) as possible.  Numbers offered were a $30-40 billion market for online display in 3-4 years with total “display” – including all IP screens – amounting to $300 billion.  He added that the increasing importance of mobile and social will be key drivers here, too.

Mohan also suggested that 28% of ad dollars spent on display today are getting lost in the friction.  Clearly, Google wants to take the friction out of what it sees as the buying process. This may result in (my words, and for example) Google building its own ad verification product a la AdSafe, DoubleVerify, Mpire, Adometry, etc.?  Or does it acquire one of these companies? Compression is coming one way or another to existing models but, from here, there’s always room for more innovation.

Search and Display

As we all know, search is a key underpinning to the Google display plans as the company looks to take a first step with search engine marketers (SEMs) who are apparently seeing the light with the low-hanging-fruit tactic of “retargeting.” In Tuesday’s meeting, Mohan explicitly said they’re getting traction with retargeting for SEMs.

For search marketers, retargeting in display is a great opportunity.  For example, SEMs run their search ad campaigns such that when the user clicks through to the SEMs landing page from a search ad, a cookie is set. The cookie has captured the user’s  intent – that’s valuable, bottom-of-the-funnel search intent. Regardless of whether the user clicks through to the final conversion or not, the user can be re-messaged through the purchase of display ad inventory available through exchanges – especially DoubleClick’s Ad Exchange which is available to SEM’s through Google AdWords – when an exchange cookie (user) is matched with a marketer’s cookie (user).

No word on search retargeting in Tuesday’s meeting as Mohan demurred about announcements in that area.  Search retargeting looms as a big driver for Google display plans as it will allow marketers to use “keyword” phrases input into Google’s search engine to not only target users on a search engine result page, but also through display inventory throughout the DoubleClick Ad Exchange.  Rather than display driving demand creation (less valuable, but important), it can drive demand fulfillment like search. Presumably this will drive publisher CPMs higher and then, before you know it, All Your Exchange Are Belong To Us.

Investing In Display

With the recent acquisitions of Teracent and Invite Media, there was the sense from the presenation that in comparison to the cost of these two companies ($100-120 million total?), Google is spending much more internally to win the display race. One of the presentation slides had a chart with no Y axis which intended to tell the story of the Google display story as the space’s opportunity increases.  Mohan labeled Google’s internal efforts as “extremely” focused on display.

Google’s Barry Saltzman made it clear that Invite Media’s capabilities will be wrapped into DoubleClick For Advertisers.  Mohan added that Invite Media is still moving full steam ahead when asked if Invite Media was accepting new clients and continuing to capitalize on momentum it had before the acquistion.

In Baljeet Singh’s presentation about YouTube and its plans, it seems that VivaKi’s “The Pool” initiative will eventually go up against, or maybe merge with (?), the skippable video ad technology and other innovations that Google is generating through YouTube.

VAST (Video Ad Serving Template) and the IAB’s efforts to create standards to overcome discrepancies in ad serving were both highlighted by Google as it looks to work with the industry. – Or, will Google be the industry?  We’ll see.

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1 Comment

  1. The real question is this: will Google allow exposure of the real incrementality of display, by allowing the use of control groups.

    Example: allow me to split test folks exposed to PPC into a PPC only group and a PPC + display group, and then compare the results over a period of time? They must already be looking at this internally…they’re not stupid…