Google Adds Custom Performance Metrics, Opening Themselves Up to More Scrutiny

They've added measurement partners and received validation from MRC

Google has also received additional MRC accreditation. Getty Images
Headshot of Ronan Shields

Almost 40 cents in every dollar spent on digital advertising is pocketed by Google, therefore accurate reporting tools for such a platform are crucial for marketers to ensure their campaign spend is performing sufficiently.

Google has historically been criticized for “marking its own homework.” Earlier this week, it took strides to satisfy advertisers’ calls for third-party verification when it received accreditation from the Media Ratings Council (MRC). In addition, it also announced more names to its recently launched Google Measurement Partners, with Nielsen, comScore, Kantar and, soon, Meetrics able to measure campaign reach on YouTube. This means that advertisers will be able to work with the listed measurement vendors to have their campaign metrics on the world’s largest video sharing site verified by an independent third party.

Babak Pahlavan, Google’s senior director of product management, analytics solutions and measurement, headed up the messaging on this latest initiative, highlighting in a conversation with Adweek that the company has been engaged with the MRC since 2006 and that receiving accreditation is often a lengthy process.

“The cornerstone of what we do is earning the trust of advertisers,” he said. “It’s not about what Google says versus advertisers. It’s about bringing a third-party to validate and speak on behalf of the dependency of our metrics.”

In a blog post earlier this week, Pahlavan revealed that the MRC accredited Google advertising products, including Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform (specifically Display & Video 360 and Campaign Manager) and Google Ad Manager. In addition, it received ad viewability accreditation for YouTube on desktop and in-app, plus it also applied for validation of its brand safety and unique reach reporting.

Discussing the updated to Google Measurement Partners, he said the updates “consolidates as an umbrella how we engage with measurement companies” as it supports the validation of attribution, brand and sales lift, reach and, now, viewability.

“We’re now including Integral Ad Science (IAS) and DoubleVerify, who have already been measuring us on the viewability front, but we’re also adding them to the third-party [measurement of] brand safety program that we have,” he added.

This is a significant milestone in assuring marketers that their ad dollars are not placing their brands at reputational risk, according to Pahlavan. With 58 percent of marketers more concerned than ever about online brand safety, it’s an important apprehension for Google to address.

“In our early tests, [the brand safety partners it just announced] saw 99 percent success rates for brand safety across reserved and auctioned [media inventory] as well as on Google Preferred,” he claimed.

Google is also introducing custom viewability metrics to its platform, meaning advertisers can now ask for more stringent measurement standards and not have to rely on the MRC’s default definition of when an ad is viewed. This update means that advertisers can set their measurement requirements when activating an ad campaign in the Google platform.

“For example, the MRC definition [of when a video ad is viewed] is two seconds and 50 percent in view, but then you can have an advertiser come back and say, ‘No, I want it to be four seconds and 35 percent in view with the audio on,’” he explained. “It’s a pretty big deal, as you have advertisers with different definitions of viewabilty.”

All of this, plus plans to help advertisers more consistently measure campaign performance across separate platforms—such as measuring video ads on YouTube and Facebook—form Google’s efforts to “democratize reach reporting,” according to Pahlavan.

“Customers can use this and conduct lift studies in a self-service manner to help compare different media types,” he added.

“We’ve noticed that some advertisers and agencies, depending on what goals they have within marketing … have different definitions of success that can vary from campaign to campaign. … This lets them slice and dice the data for what they are seeking.”

@ronan_shields Ronan Shields is a programmatic reporter at Adweek, focusing on ad-tech.