A contentious study by Adalytcis alleges that Google may have misled advertisers on YouTube, potentially resulting in billions of dollars in misplaced ad spending. The study adds to the mounting pressure on Google, as governments and publishers seek to challenge its dominance in the online advertising industry. The report focuses on Google’s TrueView skippable in-stream video ads, suggesting that advertisers may have unknowingly had their creatives served on problematic third-party properties, leading to ad misplacement.
According to Adalytics, the study observed placements representing billions of dollars spent on small, muted, out-stream, auto-playing, or interstitial video ad units running on independent websites and mobile apps. Allegations include claims that major brands experienced only a small portion of their TrueView ads spending on YouTube, with the rest distributed across Google’s Video Partner network of third-party properties. Furthermore, Adalytics accuses Google of serving TrueView ads on third-party websites with pirated content, disinformation sites, and delisted or rejected apps.
Google contests the study’s findings, stating that the majority of video ads it sells appear on YouTube, and advertisers can easily monitor where their ads are served and opt out of third-party inventory. In a blog post, Google’s director of global video solutions emphasized the options available to advertisers and highlighted their work with third-party verification companies.
While some media buyers express concerns over the complexities in this space, others point out the inertia within the industry and the lack of incentives for change. However, the pending legal challenges faced by Google from regulatory bodies may force the company to address the nature of ad placements on its platform. The report’s findings have raised concerns among industry experts, with suggestions that if true, this could have significant repercussions on Google’s reputation and reliability.
The study highlights the challenges advertisers face in tracking how their ad spend is distributed across different parts of the internet. Antitrust moves against Google by regulatory bodies in the US and EU could potentially bring about more transparency regarding ad placements. However, some industry sources believe that Google’s current dominance allows them to maintain control, while others view the study as an important reminder of the difficulties in online advertising.