For publishers, access to this can’t-get-it-anywhere-else AdWords demand kept them hooked on Google, even as they chafed against its ad server’s restrictions by implementing workarounds like header bidding.
Since many publishers that implement header bidding see Google taking a smaller portion of their inventory, the practice likely reduced the win rate of Google AdWords advertisers in those environments. But those publishers make just a small dent in Google’s overall supply.
There’s some speculation that Google may not have the publisher connections it needs on mobile yet. Taking the open route would be faster than buying another mobile exchange (it already owns AdMob) or trying to get mobile publishers to sign up.
“I don’t think they are losing on mobile. They are just not getting inventory as fast as they like,” Reid said.
But Stoeckel disagreed this change had anything to do with Google’s overall reach.
“It’s premature to make that connection,” he said. “It’s in everyone’s interest to have a larger pool to fish for those small audiences, and that’s what’s being solved for.”
He anticipates that publishers might see “positive anomalies in coming days and weeks” because AdWords has been freed to play in outside exchanges.
Sophisticated yield managers may exploit differences in revenue shares they’ve established with various exchanges. Since Google usually takes a 20-point cut on each side, for a total of 40%, Reid said, it may be better to buy AdWords demand through an exchange that only took 10 points, for a total of 30%.
How this change actually plays out is still open for debate, and likely won’t be settled until well after buyers, exchanges and publishers see these budgets flowing through.
AdWords is the largest buyer on Google AdExchange, according to Hecht. But it’s unclear how much of that goes toward retargeting and whether Google would eventually open up all AdWords demand to outside exchanges.
“Google makes you happy when they are an open, transparent company,” Reid said. “But they often haven’t been, and create angst and annoyance. They will get a lot of points for making the move to being more open. But let’s see how much they put on the exchanges.”
Google did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.