Google Brand Activate Initiative Announced at Ad Age Digital

The newly announced Google Brand Activate Initiative is designed to enable Internet marketers to better target and optimize campaign based on the introduction of support for additional, standards-based metrics for online display ad viewership, frequency and reach.

Google’s Brian Zeug, Industry Director, and Sanaz Ahari, Senior Product Manager, discusses the Google Brand Activate Initiative, Google’s effort to measure impact and reach for brand marketers.

Listen to what they had to say in this brief YouTube video.

Making the Web Work for Brand Marketers

According to Google, the goal of Google Brand Activate Initiative is to enable brand advertisers to make more informed decisions with actionable brand metrics. The initiative offers capabilities to move beyond the more traditional metrics of impressions clicks, click-through rates and conversions.

In their official blog announcement, Google indicates that they are “partnering with the industry and supporting the IAB’s Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) coalition.” Google, as does the IAB, believes that this industry investment in brand measurement can substantially grow the online advertising opportunity for all industry participants by providing brands advertising online with some of the same metrics they have become accustomed to in other channels such as TV.

“One of the greatest things we can do as Google is help brand marketers understand the language of digital. In fact, the language of digital should really just be about marketing,” says Brian Zeug.

As part of this initiative, Google is introducing 3 products:

  • Active View
  • Active GRP
  • Active Survey Pilot

Active View

“What marketers want more than anything else is to see what they received for the money they invested. So it’s pretty simple and what we are going to give them in not only what they have had in the past, which is has my ad been served? So was the impression served, We are going to help them understand was the ad viewed,” says Brian Zeug.

“With Active View, we measure the percentage of the ad that was seen, as well as the duration that it was seen for. We believe the combination of these two attributes are critical for optimizing for view-ability by end users,” says Google’s Sanaz Ahari.

The Active View technology will be submitted for Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation that can count “viewed” impressions as a display ad that is at least 50% viewable on the screen for at least one second. Ths is based on IAB proposed standards, which may leave some wondering if one second is a meaningful view and the probable impact (or lack there of) for such a view.

According to Google’s announcement on the DoubleClick blog, the promise of Active View is to enable advertisers to pay only for impressions that were actually viewed.

Active GRP

“In order for us to extend brand marketing effectively from TV to online, it is important for us [Google] to have a metric that translates across the two mediums. Active GRP is that metric for online,” says Sanaz.

“We are filling gaps for the industry and we are working extremely fast and extremely hard to understand the relationships around who saw the ad, what did they think and what did they do, “said Brian.”

What we are even more excited about is connecting the dots across these three pillars and figuring out ultimately how to optimize within each one,” says Sanaz.

“So we are not stopping. This isn’t the first and only step. There are multiple steps here. So what we are really passionate about is fueling that insights engine. The work that we are doing to make you understand your consumer better,” says Brian.

Active GRP is based on the concept of GRP, or a gross rating point, which is central to traditional, non-digital media measurement. For example, when a national brand wants their TV campaign to reach 4 million men with three ads each, they use GRP to measure that. Google DoubleClick is introducing a new version of GRP for the web in its Active GRP capabilities. The Active GRP capability, according to Google has two key components:

  • Built-in: Active GRP is integrated into the ad serving technologies that Google DoubleClick interface that publishers and Internet marketers already use every day. According to Google, Active GRP will enable real-time decision making, allowing advertisers to make adjustments to their campaigns on the fly. Currently, Google is implementing a pilot program for DoubleClick for Advertisers clients as a first step, with plans to implement this feature  into other Google products, providing brands the capability to be able to specify a range of audience GRP segments.
  • Robust methodology: Active GRP 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. This approach address challenges of potential panel skewing and reliance on a single data source. Google states that its approach 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. Like Active View, Google will be submitting their methodology for MRC accreditation.

While this sounds good on the surface, reactions in the blog sphere have been mixed, with many seeing the move as driven to benefit Google and their ability to attract more advertising budget away from traditional channels such as print and TV, while focusing more on increasing their sales than providing Google display advertisers with more actionable information in their online brand campaigns.

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Rick Noel is an experienced digital marketer enabling businesses and organizations to grow through the Internet, while maximizing marketing ROI (Return On Investment). Rick is the CEO and Co-Founder of eBiz ROI, Inc., a full-service digital marketing agency located in Ballston Lake, NY.

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