Google’s Video Ad Woes: Navigating Troubled Waters Amidst Controversy


Following the publication of the Adalytics study, which accuses the tech giant of deceiving advertisers and perhaps breaking US sanctions, Google is the subject of intense investigation. The paper focuses on Google’s TrueView video ad format, which is widely used on YouTube and other websites referred to as Google video partners.

Adalytics found a large disparity between Google’s promises that TrueView advertising would show up on high-quality websites with audio before the primary video content. According to the survey, advertising were displayed in small, muted video players in the corner of the screen 80% of the time. Some even broke Google’s quality guidelines for TrueView advertising by playing themselves endlessly without any viewer input. As a result, advertisers might have paid for ad views that were inconsistent with Google’s guarantees.

Google strongly disputes Adalytics’ claims in response, calling them “extremely inaccurate.” The company maintains that contrary to what the study implies, the majority of video ad campaigns are provided on YouTube. Google emphasizes its commitment to stopping disruptive, invasive, or dishonest ad-serving techniques by insisting that advertisers can monitor and manage the placement of their advertising on third-party websites.

However, as Nandini Jammi, co-founder of the advertising watchdog group Check My Ads, highlights contradictions in Google’s statement, scrutiny grows. Google’s phrasing implies that advertisers may choose not to run advertisements on third-party websites at any moment. However, as of September 30, 2021, new Video action campaigns automatically employ Google video partners, making opting out for some efforts impossible, according to Google’s support page.

Concerns are expressed over Google’s screening of third-party partners in addition to difficulties with ad quality. Adalytics records occasions where Google displayed advertisements for Android applications that weren’t found in the Google Play Store, some of which were made in nations under US government sanctions. As a result, there is a chance that marketers may unwittingly support prohibited organizations.

Check My Ads emphasizes dubious placements even more, pointing out ads on Breitbart and Zero Hedge as well as right-wing websites under Russian official control. Following the discovery, Paul Tang, a member of the European Parliament, released a statement in which he accused Google of becoming a “play doll of dictators” and criticized the European Parliament’s advertisements on Russian propaganda websites.

Accountability is becoming more and more necessary as the topic develops. Advertisers are asked to request reimbursements for any advertising that fell short of the standards Google had promised. Check My Ads promotes opt-in only advertising on partner websites and demands openness regarding Google’s website vetting procedure.

The results from Adalytics have already prompted reactions from ad agencies. Michael Feeley, co-founder of Black Bean Media, called them a “wake-up call for advertisers participating in Google’s ecosystem” and those engaged in programmatic video buying generally. The developing scenario raises concerns about Google’s advertising tactics and puts doubt on how transparent and accountable its extensive advertising network is.

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