Introducing a new way for brand advertisers to reach their ideal customer

Brand Advertisers often know who they want to reach, but connecting online with the audience that matters most to their brand at scale has proven to be a challenge. To help address this, we’re excited to announce the launch of Affinity Segments in AdWords and YouTube, which have been designed with TV-style audiences in mind to help solve the problem of connecting with ideal customers online. To understand someone’s affinity, our system takes into account the types of pages a user visits, along with how often and how long they spend there, associating interest categories with each person’s browser. Optimized for reach and frequency, Affinity Segments helps advertisers reach those most likely to enjoy their brand.

Make life easier
With Affinity Segments, we make it easy by helping brand advertisers reach their ideal audience via 80 unique lifestyle segments based on Interest Categories and Demographics . Brands can now reach their target audience at scale based on their interests – such as green living, fashion, or travel – and watch engagement grow.

And it doesn’t stop there. We know that as an advertiser you’re probably used to buying audiences offline for TV, and we know how challenging buying an online audience can be. To make life even easier for you, we defined our affinity segments the same way you target your TV audiences, so you can achieve massive reach online using the same segments you use on TV.

Mazda Canada drives success using Affinity Segments
Like most advertisers out there, Mazda Canada has been on the lookout for a solution that would enable them to reach precise audiences at scale. Over the past decade, the Mazda6 has undergone a few key redesigns – 2013 marked the launch of an all-new model combining Mazda’s signature design style with SKYACTIV Technology, its cutting-edge performance and fuel-saving technology, as well as some innovative safety features including Smart City Brake Support and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. The launch of this flagship vehicle demanded an innovative marketing approach: to build awareness of these technological advancements, inform consumers of the car’s new features, and drive them to the Mazda6 website to engage directly with the brand.

They knew their target audience: male urban professionals who are typically interested in technology and up-to-date on all the latest gadgets and automotive advancements.

Mazda Canada decided to give Affinity Segments a try, selecting the “technophile” segment to connect them with their ideal tech-savvy customers, who have demonstrated an interest in technology through visits to various websites focused on new gadgets.  By targeting the technophiles segment across Google Display, Mazda reinforced the messaging and impact of its television campaign geared to the same type of audience. Mazda saw impressive results and reached 10X more users than they were able to with previous campaigns, greatly exceeding their expectations.

“Affinity Segments delivered perfectly for this campaign in allowing us to reach many users in a short period of time who we knew would have a predisposition to appreciate the Mazda6’s technology upgrades.” said Michael Tsang, Interactive Marketing Manager at Mazda Canada. As a result of their overwhelming success, Mazda Canada decided to integrate Affinity Segments into their online media mix for their other car models and as a vital component for their advertising efforts.

Connect with the people who care
Affinity Segments offer broader reach by encompassing the broad passions that reflect a user’s lifestyle rather than niche curiosities.  Our wide variety of segments let you reach your perfect audience – from hardcore gamers, to foodies, to luxury shoppers, we have a high-reach segment designed to connect you with your ideal customers. If there isn’t a segment that is a perfect fit for your brand’s needs, you can contact your account manager to create a custom segment just for you.
Consumers can also update their own interest categories through Ads Settings – which gives users control over the ads they see online.

Learn More
Just like Mazda, you too can use Affinity Segments to expand your reach across the Google Display Network and focus on engaging with individuals who match what your brand is all about – delighting customers and creating future brand advocates.

To find out how to get started with Affinity Segments today, visit our Help Center for more information.

Posted by Diya Jolly, Senior Product Manager

The Importance of Being Seen: Viewability and Brands

Brand marketers since the “Mad Men” era have often sought insight to a simple question: ‘Was my ad seen?’ The answer was that your ad was published, your commercial ran, your online impression served on a web page, but it was impossible to say with certainty whether an ad was viewed or not. Thanks to leaps forward in digital technology and the hard work of many in the industry, it's now possible to measure whether an ad is viewable onscreen. Given this progress, it's not a matter of if this becomes the standard, but when.

We support a viewable impressions standard and have been partnering with the industry to push this forward. Today we've reached an important milestone on this journey - Media Rating Council (MRC) accreditation for our viewability measurement solution, Active View, which we introduced last year.

"We are very pleased that Google has achieved accreditation for its Active View product" said George Ivie, CEO and Executive Director of the Media Rating Council.  "Viewable impressions are an important foundational improvement in digital measurement and an important step toward comparability with other electronic media."

Active View complements our other investments in making digital an effective medium for brand marketers and their awareness-building campaigns, like Lightbox ads and TrueView in AdMob and games. These efforts appear to be paying off for brand advertisers: we saw a 65 percent increase last quarter alone in the number of brand advertisers using our brand formats and buying tools.

The Active View Roadmap

Viewability has the power to transform the industry: improving the value of marketers’ spend, and of publishers’ sites. We’ve also designed this metric to be actionable, not just for after-the-fact reporting. Based on Active View, advertisers can buy reservable inventory on the Google Display Network (GDN), paying only for impressions that meet the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s proposed viewability standard - at least 50% on screen for one second or longer.

Effective metrics also serve as a universal currency, building an understanding between marketers and content creators about the best way to reach an audience, and the value of an ad on a page. This is why we’ll be building Active View into our products both for advertisers and publishers. In addition to its use on the GDN, Active View reporting will be available in DoubleClick for Advertisers and DoubleClick for Publishers in 2013. Long term, we see this becoming the new standard for how impressions are bought, sold and measured, replacing the “served impressions” metric we have today.

While many intuitively suspected that increased viewability would directly translate into better campaign performance, we now have data to back that up. On our network, we compared ads by the number of seconds they appeared on screen and found:
  • Users are more likely to click on viewable ads -- up to 21 times more.
  • Viewability can help publishers discover “gold below the fold,” with CTR doubling, on average, for below-the-fold inventory. On average, we’ve found that CTR is comparable for viewable above-the-fold and viewable below-the-fold inventory.
  • The longer users view an ad, the bigger the boost for click-through rates (we saw up to a 125% increase when an ad was viewed for more than 20 seconds).

Figure 1.  Comparison of CTR for viewable v. non-viewable ads, shown for all ads (left panel) and BTF inventory only (right panel) (100% = the average CTR of the specified dataset).

Figure 2.  CTR by viewable time, detail.
*Data source for all figures:  Google Display Network 2% sample from February 2013; display ads only; viewable = 50% onscreen.  In all figures, 100% on the y-axis denotes the average CTR across all ad queries in the specified dataset.

Google’s MRC accreditation, which currently applies to the Google Display Network and DoubleClick for Advertisers, was based on a thorough assessment of a number of factors, including the detection process, quality control and delivery standards.

With this accreditation, we are one step closer to making a viewable standard a reality for our partners. With better measurement, we think it's possible to unlock a new golden age of creation across the web, where users can enjoy great content, brands can connect with their customers and content creators can accelerate their growth.

Posted by Neal Mohan, Vice President, Display Advertising

The brand revolution is underway

As we’ve said before, we’ve entered the next wave of digital marketing, as major brands like L’Oreal, Audi and Kay Jewelers embrace digital media and make it a core part of their marketing strategy.  We’ve seen a 65 percent increase in the last quarter alone in the number of brand advertisers using our brand formats and buying tools.

This influx of brand investment is translating into meaningful results for digital publishers.
  • We looked at the 50 top publishers that enable brand-friendly ad formats on their sites.  Over the past three months we found that, on average, they experienced a CPM increase of 2x or more when running these engagement-driven ads, such as our Lightbox ad, which expands to a full page only after a user has deliberately engaged with the ad. "We've seen CPM increases of more than 3X, and our advertisers love the large canvas and pay for engagement model," says Rich Dredge,'s Chief Revenue Officer.
  • We’ve seen an overall increase in higher CPMs across our exchange -- in the U.S., CPMs over $5 have increased 24% year-over-year while those over $10 have increased 23% year-over-year. Brand spend is a critical piece of these increases.
Fueling brand adoption
    To continue this momentum, we’ve been investing in a suite of brand solutions over the past year to help these advertisers make the most of what digital marketing has to offer:
    • New Ways to Buy -- Last year, we introduced Active View, offering for the first time the ability to not only measure whether ads are viewable, but actually buy based on it. Brands are able to “reserve” a guaranteed number of impressions on brand-friendly sites across the web -- and they pay only for impressions that are viewed. 

      • Over the past year, the number of advertisers using the reserve option has increased fourfold.
      • Nearly two-thirds of those are Ad Age top 100 brands.

    • New Ways to Engage -- Last year, we introduced a new family of brand-friendly, engagement-focused ad formats. Engagement formats are already showing terrific early returns.  For example, L’ORÉAL PARiS was one of the first brands to run a campaign using engagement ads. They ran an expandable ad in Germany as part of their “Beauty Minute” campaign and found that 30% of those who expanded the ad watched the entire 30-second embedded video. 
    • New Ways to Measure -- We’re committed to providing meaningful metrics for brands, measurement that goes beyond just clicks and conversions. Earlier this week, we introduced Brand Lift in AdWords, which will enable marketers to run surveys along with their ad campaigns, to determine how their ads helped their marketing objectives (i.e., whether their ads helped build awareness, increased favorability towards their brand, etc.). Brand Lift complements our other investments in brand measurement, like ActiveView and Active GRP.

    Digital media represents an amazing opportunity for both brands and publishers, bringing together sight, sound, motion, interactivity and measurement in ways we’ve never seen before.

    Over the coming year, we’ll be continuing to invest in our products and systems that will help brands thrive in the digital space, as well as help publishers capitalize on the stay tuned for more to come.

    Posted by Neal Mohan

    Measuring Brand Lift With Google Consumer Surveys

    A few weeks ago, Susan Wojcicki spoke at IAB about building an ads ecosystem for 2020.  There, she introduced a new tool, Brand Lift surveys in AdWords, that will help advertisers measure the brand impact of their display campaigns via surveys.  We wanted to provide a bit more detail about this new feature and how advertisers can begin to use it.

    First, some context.  We’ve made good progress (through efforts to measure GRPs and viewable impressions) to help advertisers measure their brand campaigns, but many still rely on basic metrics like clicks and impressions.

    Historically, if a brand wanted to see how its advertising campaign impacted things like consumers’ purchase intent, brand awareness or brand favorability, it would have to wait weeks or months to conduct expensive survey research.

    Brand Lift surveys in AdWords use the speed and scale of the web to help advertisers gain a better, more nuanced understanding of how their campaigns are performing.  Results are accurate, occur in real-time, and don’t cost anything extra.

    Advertisers will be able to set up and run Brand Lift surveys alongside their campaigns without any additional tagging, third-party set-up or fees, all from within AdWords.  Here’s how they work:
    • In AdWords, an advertiser designs a basic survey from a list of templatized questions about purchase intent, brand awareness, and other common categories.  
    • Then they launch their display or video campaign.  
    • Automatically, one group of users will see display ads from the advertiser’s campaign, followed shortly afterwards by the survey.  A second, similar group will not be shown the ads, but will receive the same survey.  
    • Publishers are paid for displaying survey questions on their sites, which helps to fund content and services online.  
    • Google compares the aggregated and anonymous data from the two groups of respondents and gives it to advertisers to measure the impact of their campaigns.  
    Brand Lift surveys are powered by Google Consumer Surveys, which launched in April 2012 and run across many partner sites, such as NY Daily News, SJ Mercury News, Bloomberg, YouTube and other publishers.  You may also see some anonymous sampling questions (like those asking your age range, gender or other demographic questions). Your responses are aggregated with other users' to help us show more relevant ads to users based on their interests and demographics.

    It’s still early days, but we’re already seeing advertisers benefit from Brand Lift Surveys.  Brand Lift surveys are available to measure the impact of YouTube campaigns, and we’re looking forward to expanding this beta to many more brand advertisers (both display and video) in the coming weeks.

    Posted by Paul McDonald, Product Manager, Google Consumer Surveys

    Art, Copy & Code: a series of experiments to re-imagine advertising

    Last year, we started a program to partner with advertisers and agencies to re-imagine how brands tell stories in a connected world. Project Re: Brief set out to recreate some of the advertising industry’s most iconic, classic campaigns using the latest technology tools. This year we’re expanding that program to work with some of today’s most iconic brands and innovative marketers, in our new project: Art, Copy & Code.

    Art, Copy & Code is a series of projects and experiments to show how creativity and technology can work hand in hand. Some of these will include familiar brands like Volkswagen, Burberry and adidas—projects developed in partnership with their creative teams and agencies. Others will be creative experiments with innovative filmmakers, creative directors and technologists to explore how brands can connect with consumers through a whole range of digital tools—including ads, mobile apps and social experiences. Our first partner project is a new social driving experience—Volkswagen Smileage.

    Building off their 2012 campaign, “It’s not the miles, it’s how you live them,” Volkswagen Smileage is a mobile app and web service that aims to add a little bit of fun to every drive, from your daily commutes to holiday road trips. The app measures the fun factor of each trip using a metric called “smileage,” based on signals like weather, traffic, location, time and social interactions (e.g.,  a long drive on a sunny Saturday afternoon might accumulate more smileage than a morning commute in the snow). You can use it with any car, not just Volkswagens.

    Powered by the new Google+ sign-in, you can choose to share Smileage experience with friends and family. For example, during a road trip, photos and videos taken by you and your co-passengers can be automatically added to a live interactive map. The inspiration for the service came from a recent study showing that every day, 144 million Americans on average spend 52 minutes in a car—76 percent of them alone. We wanted to make that time a more shareable experience. Volkswagen Smileage will be available soon in beta—you can sign up on this webpage for early access.

    We’ll have many more experiments to share in the Art, Copy & Code project soon—subscribe for updates at We’re committed to investing in technology and tools over the long term to help brands and their agencies succeed not just today, but in a digital future that will look very different.

    If you’re planning on attending SXSW, stop by the Google Playground on March 9 to see demos of these experiments, or attend our talk on March 10.

    Posted by by Aman Govil, Art, Copy & Code Project Lead Finds That Traditional Conversion Tracking Significantly Undervalues Non-brand Search

    Understanding the true impact of advertising

    Advertisers have a fundamental need to understand the effectiveness of their advertising. Unfortunately, determining the true impact of advertising on consumer behavior is deceptively difficult. This difficulty in measurement is especially applicable to advertising on non-brand (i.e. generic) search terms, where ROI may be driven indirectly over multiple interactions that include downstream brand search activities. Advertising effectiveness is often estimated using standard tracking processes that rely upon ‘Last Click’ attribution. However, ‘Last Click’ based tracking can significantly underestimate the true value of non-brand search advertising. This fact was recently demonstrated by, a leading travel brand, using a randomized experiment - the most rigorous method of measurement.

    Experimental Approach recently conducted an online geo-experiment to measure the effectiveness of their non-brand search advertising on Google AdWords.  The study included offline and online conversions.  The analysis used a mathematical model to account for seasonality and city-level differences in sales.  Cities were randomly assigned to either a test or a control group. The test group received non-brand search advertising during the 12 week test period, while the control group did not receive such advertising during the same period. The benefit of this approach is that it allows statements to be made regarding the causal relationship between non-brand search advertising and the volume of conversions - the real impact of the marketing spend.

    Full case study


    The results of the experiment indicate that the overall effectiveness of the non-brand search advertising is 43% greater1  than the estimate generated by’s standard online tracking system.

    The true impact of the non-brand search advertising is significantly larger than the ‘Last Click’ estimate because it accounts for
    1. upper funnel changes in user behavior that are not visible to a ‘Last Click’ tracking system, and
    2. the impact of non-brand search on sales from online and offline channels.
    This improved understanding of the true value of non-brand search advertising has given the opportunity to revise their marketing strategy and make better budgeting decisions.

    How can you benefit?

    As proven by this study, ‘Last Click’ measurement can significantly understate the true effectiveness of search advertising. Advertisers should look to assess the performance of non-brand terms using additional metrics beyond ‘Last Click’ conversions. For example, advertisers should review the new first click conversions and assist metrics available in AdWords and Google Analytics. Ideally, advertisers will design and carry out experiments of their own to understand how non-brand search works to drive sales.

    Read more on AdWords Search Funnels
    Read more on Google Analytics Multi Channel Funnels

    Anish Acharya, Industry Analyst, Google; Stefan F. Schnabl, Product Manager, Google; Gabriel Hughes, Head of Attribution, Google; and Jon Vaver, Senior Quantitative Analyst, Google contributed to this report.

    1 This result has a 95% Bayesian confidence interval of [1.17, 1.66].

    Posted by Jeremy Tully, Inside AdWords Crew

    Build your digital brand with Google+ Webinar

    The Google+ platform provides a fresh canvas to build and strengthen your digital brand while tying into all the marketing you already do with Google. From launching a new product using Google+ pages to engaging with your community of enthusiasts over Hangouts, join our Learn with Google webinar this Thursday for a look at ways your company can build its brand using social. Sign up on our webinar page to attend: Building a Digital Brand with Google+ (Thurs, Dec 6, 10am PT / 1pm ET)

    After the Hangout, we’ll host a live Q&A with members of the Google+ team to answer questions about building a brand with Google+. RSVP on the Google+ Event page and add your questions as comments on that page.

    With more than 100 monthly million active Google+ users, the time is now to focus on building your digital brand presence via the platform. Google+ has seen a wealth of brands engaging with users in creative, interactive ways. Brands created more than 1 million Google+ pages in just the last few months. For instance:
    • H&M -- The retail clothing company, with more than 2 million Google+ followers, uses tailored content, images and video to bring its fashions to life on the platform. They’ve utilized Ripples to identify their trendsetters and saw a 22% boost in clickthrough rate after implementing social extensions in AdWords.
    • Cadbury -- The chocolate maker has built a following of nearly 3 million users with a combination of creative posts, Hangouts on Air and even the launch of their Dairy Milk Bubbly bar. They’ve also installed the Google+ badge on the company’s web homepage, making it easy as chocolate to follow the brand.
    Like the ideas here? Log on Thursday to learn more about how to create, capture and sustain demand for your brand using Google+. And if you’re going to miss this while you’re at SMX Social in Las Vegas, check back at the webinars page later for a recording.

    Helping Brands Light Up the Web

    When creativity and technology work hand in hand, brands can build amazing things online...not only helping them connect with their customers in the right moment, but also funding digital content and creating dazzling ads that users love. I spoke yesterday at Advertising Week about how we can partner more closely with brands to win the moments that matter. And today, we’re adding a few new tools to the toolbox for brand marketers.

    A large canvas, at scale
    We’re introducing our lightbox ad format, the first of a new family of display ads that allow marketers to pay only when a user engages. The lightbox starts as a standard display ad, making it scalable, but after a two-second hover, expands to a super-sized canvas. In internal tests, we’ve seen that this smart hover feature eliminates nearly 100% of accidental expansions and increases engagement by 6-8X over standard click-to-expand ads. The result: users only engage with the ads they really want to see and brand marketers only pay for truly engaged views.

    Engagement matters
    We also have some new insights on how our existing engagement-driven formats on YouTube and the Google Display Network, such as the TrueView family of video ads, have effectively helped brands reach their audience online. We looked at the sales impact during and two weeks after 92 different ad campaigns, and found that on average every $1 invested in YouTube delivered a $1.70 return in sales--2.4x more efficient than the television spend for these campaigns. These ads also help achieve branding goals: we found, on average, that ads on YouTube and the Google Display Network drive a 36% increase in visits to your website and a 36% increase in searches for your brand online (Google Internal Data, 2012).

    Google BrandLab brings brands to life on the web
    Finally, while we believe magic moments can happen online, sometimes, nothing beats a face-to-face conversation. To help more brands harness the full potential of the web, we’ve recently created a physical space where we can collaborate with brands and agencies on winning all the moments that matter -- the Google BrandLab at our YouTube headquarters. We’ve already had a number of advertisers at BrandLab including Capital One, Coca-Cola, Nissan, and Toyota, and look forward to helping even more brands use Google technologies in creative and impactful ways.

    We hope these new tools take their place in the brand-building toolbox alongside some of our other offerings like our platform for crowdsourced creativity, the Creative Sandbox Gallery; brand-friendly metrics, and YouTube Original Channels. We want to make the web work for brands in a big way, these are just a few early steps. Look for more to come on this front in the months to come.

    Posted by Jim Lecinski, Vice President, Brand Solutions