Google announces new metrics for online advertising

By Nisha Menon , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | April 24, 2012
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The search biggie has announced new tools to measure the effectiveness of online ads in an effort to entice marketers to adopt the digital medium.

For long, brands and marketers have struggled to measure the success of their campaigns or initiatives on various media, and digital advertising has not been much different. Clicks and impressions have for years ruled the roost as far as measuring the impact and reach of an online campaign is concerned. Google recently announced the launch of new metrics, which the internet giant calls an effort to persuade marketers to pump in more money from traditional advertising methods to the online medium.


According to Google, the initiative, called 'Brand Activate', aims to re-imagine online measurement for brand marketers and will build useful brand metrics into the tools that advertisers are already using to manage their campaigns. The launch was announced on the company's official blog by Neal Mohan, vice-president, display advertising, Google. As part of the launch, two new tools have been introduced - Active View and Active GRP.

Google's Active View solution measures whether the ad is seen by the user, the percentage of the ad that is viewed, and the duration of ad exposure. Google will only count the ad as 'viewed' if the advertisement is 'at least 50 per cent viewable on the screen for at least one second.'

Active GRP solution is similar to the Gross Rating Point metric used predominantly in the television industry. Active GRP will allow advertisers to quickly measure the effectiveness of a campaign and adjust accordingly. It will focus on providing information related to the reach and frequency of the digital campaign.

This tool has two key features. First, it is built right into the ad serving tools that the publishers and marketers already use every day. It will enable real-time decision making, allowing advertisers to make adjustments to their campaigns at the speed of the web. Secondly, it has a robust methodology, as it is calculated by a statistical model that combines aggregated panel data and anonymous user data (either inferred or user-provided), and will work in conjunction with Active View to measure viewed impressions.

According to Google, this approach overcomes problems of potential panel skewing and reliance on a single data source. It also has the advantage of never using personally identifiable information, not sharing user data with third parties, and enabling users, through Google's Ads Preferences Manager, to opt-out.

Adoption of online medium

These tools have been launched by Google with the aim to drive the adoption of the online medium as the preferred choice for advertising by brands and marketers. According to many digital marketers and connoisseurs, the medium has always attracted a step-brotherly treatment as compared to traditional modes of advertising. The paltry marketing budget allotted to the medium is a reflection of the trust marketers have on the medium to spread the word about their brand, product or service.

Suvodeep Das

V Balasubramaniun

Debdutta Upadhayaya

Suvodeep Das, marketing head, Kaya Skin Clinic calls it a step in the right direction. "These new tools are a step in the right direction to simplify digital media buying and planning. Whether it will work or not, will depend how accurate these measurements turn out to be," he says.

But there are some who believe that adoption is going to be a tough ask. V Balasubramaniun, head, technology, Ozone Media, says, "The adoption will be tough as the industry is used to the way impressions are defined today. As an ad network, sometimes it is tough to explain geo-targeting to publishers as to why they won't get paid for a few impressions as they were served in geographies outside the ones defined by the agreement. Now, with the new standard, if we go back to our publishers and say that we won't be paying for a bunch of impressions as it was never viewed at all, there could be a lot of heartburn. Publishers should use this opportunity to redesign their pages, remove the clutter and have fewer placements that are visible."

Opportunities and challenges

This newly introduced business solution brings a ray of hope for brands. With specific targeting tools like Active View and Active GRP, businesses can now make strategies with the objective of gaining screen presence, brand recall, brand awareness and a positive online reputation, which all come together to convert into revenue.

Avijit Arya of Internet Moguls says, "If you can think outside complex calculations of cost and revenue and can measure success in terms building trust, confidence and a positive reputation, then we can surely see creative minds getting a foothold back in the ad world, with businesses finally realising the true potential of online marketing."

Till now, the success and failure of an ad campaign has been measured in number of clicks, traffic to the website, and online sales figures during the campaign duration. In such a scenario, it is normal for advertisers to lose focus and make wrong decisions like pushing an ad with a negative impact, while sidelining something with great brand strengthening ability. While Arya believes that businesses may take a while to understand the true potential of Active Views and Active GRP, online marketing agencies must be all smiles as selling the idea of online advertising has just been made all the more easier by Google.

He adds, "The only real challenge that I foresee is the ignorance of most businesses as they usually tend to give less than due credit to long term benefits and impress upon short term gains. Each penny spent on the internet is expected to convert into revenue, while millions are spent on TV ads just for brand awareness or brand recall."

Growing importance of metrics

Metrics for long has been a much debated subject. The lack of a singular currency to measure the effectiveness of a particular online campaign and the return on investments coming in from the campaign has kept the marketing clan away from investing heavily in the medium as they would do in a print, television or an outdoor campaign. The call for a singular certified unit to measure the effectiveness of a digital campaign has been growing louder with each passing day.

Debdutta Upadhayaya, vice-president, Vdopia Inc., says, "Any certified analytics, which gives a good idea about the performance of a campaign, will help the growth of the industry. The introduction of these metrics indicates their growing importance in the marketing function and will surely go a long way in driving the adoption of the digital medium."

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