Reimagining the future of buying and selling ads online

We’re in the midst of an online advertising revolution that makes the consumer the center of all we do—with creative tools to make ads that don’t just inform but inspire and dazzle, and measurement frameworks that go beyond clicks to drive real emotional engagement. The next step is to look beyond the ads themselves and reimagine the entire system of buying and selling ads online in a way that puts users first. Today, at our DoubleClick Insights conference, we’re gathering with our closest customers to discuss how we can partner to accomplish this and to unveil some tools for advertisers and publishers that we think will help us all reach this goal.

In particular, we’re introducing DoubleClick Digital Marketing: the first modern ad platform built for the modern digital world. You can read the details on the DoubleClick Advertiser blog, or watch live. This represents the biggest overhaul ever of our DoubleClick ad platform, used by agencies and large advertisers around the globe for digital media buying. One of the central challenges we’re looking to solve with this effort is that digital marketing is still incredibly complex—with marketers juggling multiple systems to manage their different digital efforts across banner ads, paid search campaigns, mobile ads, online video and measurement using systems that don’t talk to one another. We think of this a bit like an old school ‘90’s stereo system, with separate CD, cassette and radio players and a mess of wires in the back. What we want to provide to our partners should be more like the intuitive, powerful smartphones we carry in our pockets today—which not only play all our favorite music, but take pictures, keep our schedules and more.

Towards this end, DoubleClick Digital Marketing will weave together the technologies that buyers currently use to plan, manage, schedule, deliver and measure their online buys in a way we think will not only help them work smarter and faster, but ultimately be more responsive to their customers and deliver better ads.

For our publisher partners, our focus continues to be on bringing together the best of our products, and those of Admeld, the publisher technology company we acquired last year. So we're announcing some new tools to give publishers greater transparency into their businesses and better ways to work with their partners, for example a new Market View on the DoubleClick Ad Exchange that gives them the big picture of what’s happening across the exchange, rather than just their own performance. We think that ultimately, by empowering publishers’ growth and success and enabling them to continue funding great online content, everyone wins.

For more details on our announcements today, be sure to check out our DoubleClick Advertiser and DoubleClick Publisher blogs throughout the week, or tune in to the live stream of DoubleClick Insights, from 9am-1pm PT today, June 5.

Think Insights now includes research from 21 countries

Whether you’re a marketer in Milan or a planner in Pretoria, you can now get your hands on more Google research and tools to help you better understand your audience and how consumer behavior is changing. Our Think Insights website has just expanded to cover 21 different countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Think Insights can help you understand your customers better, develop your digital strategy, find data to support a business case, stay on top of the latest consumer and industry trends and get insights directly from industry thought leaders. Here are just a few examples of what you can do on the updated site:
  • Access our research library of studies and whitepapers from across 21 different countries. You can search for research by country, sector, marketing objective or media type.
  • Use the Insights MENA tool to explore the media habits of consumers in the Middle East and North Africa, or do the same for consumers in Sub-Saharan Africa with our Insights Africa tool.
  • Watch new videos on the consumer journey, with information on behaviors such as “research online, purchase offline” (ROPO).

Visit Think Insights to see how the site can help you, and follow Think with Google on Google+ for ongoing updates.

Making the web work for major brands

In the 1950s, major brand marketers, like movie studios and consumer goods companies, embraced television, helping spark a multi-billion dollar industry—and the beginning of TV’s golden age.

One reason these brands invested in TV was the emergence of new measurement tools, like TV ratings and market research, that helped show which ads were reaching the right audiences and having a positive impact.

Measurability is already at the heart of digital advertising—every second, businesses rely on insights from products like Google Analytics and Google AdWords to help them grow.

But major brands are interested in things like “brand recall” (such as whether consumers remember the name of your cereal), and “brand favorability” (whether they think positively about it), rather than just clicks and online sales. The metrics that the online advertising industry uses today aren’t always equipped to tell that fuller story. Many brands scramble together metrics like clicks, ad impressions, and numerous tools and measurement solutions, trying to make sense of them and—some time later—acting upon the insights they can glean.

The lack of these actionable, truly useful metrics is a key reason that many major brands have been cautious in embracing digital advertising over the past decade, even as high-quality content and millions of users have moved online.

We think that a new generation of measurement solutions will help brands quantify the benefits of investing online and will help to fund the next generation of great online content and services.

Today at the Ad Age Digital Conference we’re introducing the Brand Activate initiative, a new effort to re-imagine online measurement for brand marketers and—crucially—to help brands turn measurement into action, immediately. We're working with the industry and supporting the IAB's Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) coalition on this project.

We believe that the industry’s significant investment in these areas can substantially grow the online advertising pie, help major brands invest for growth, and fund new digital content and services.

Read all the details about this initiative, and the first solutions (Active GRP and Active View) on our Agency blog.

Take a walk on the sell-side

In June, we announced that we are acquiring Admeld, a New York-based company that helps large publishers (also known as the “sell-side” by people, like me, who live and breathe display advertising) maximize their revenues from online advertising. We’re pleased that the U.S. Department of Justice has today cleared this deal. We’ll close the acquisition in the coming days and then start the real work—building improved products and services that help our publisher partners to make more informed decisions across all their ad space, and to grow their revenues.

The opportunity for major online publishers is huge...and growing. People are spending more and more time consuming online content across numerous devices, advertisers are running more online and mobile campaigns to reach them; and ads continue to get more engaging and relevant. This represents an unprecedented moment for publishers. We believe that improved technology and services can help publishers seize it and make online advertising work much better.

For now, it’s business as usual—Admeld’s products will operate separately to Google’s existing solutions (such as DoubleClick for Publishers and the DoubleClick Ad Exchange). But over time, there are opportunities to bring the best of both businesses together in a variety of ways; and to develop entirely new solutions, too.

As we do this, Admeld and Google are guided by some core shared beliefs:
  • We want to give publishers more control over their ad space, and offer more flexible ways to manage and sell it. Publishers’ businesses should influence the technology they use; not the other way around
  • We believe that publishers can make better decisions to maximize their revenues when they have better insights at their fingertips
  • We envisage a much simpler system that enables publishers to manage and sell their ad space—across desktop, video, mobile, tablets and more
The content produced by Google’s and Admeld’s publisher partners is the lifeblood of the Internet. We can’t wait to start building the next generation of tools and services that will help them grow their businesses.

Update December 6, 2011: Our acquisition of Admeld has now closed.

(Cross-posted on the DoubleClick Publisher Blog)

New tools to help publishers maximize their revenue

What do a celebrity blog, a video interview on a newspaper site and a cable channel’s smartphone app have in common? They’re all supported by advertising...and they’re all examples of how the lines between media formats are blurring.

These increasingly blurry lines are not only resulting in highly engaging forms of content for users, but many new revenue opportunities for publishers. A wave of innovation and investment over the past several years has also created better performing ads, a larger pool of online advertisers, and new technologies to sell and manage ad space. Together, these trends are helping to spur increased investment in online advertising. We’ve seen this in our own Google Display Network: our publisher partners have seen spending across the Google Display Network from our largest 1,000 advertisers more than double in the last 12 months.

With all these new opportunities in mind, we’re introducing new tools for our publisher partners—in our ad serving technology (DoubleClick for Publishers) and in our ad exchange (DoubleClick Ad Exchange).

Video and mobile in DoubleClick for Publishers
Given the changes in the media landscape, it’s not surprising that we’ve seen incredible growth for both mobile and video ad formats over the past year: the number of video ads on the Google Display Network has increased 350 percent in the past 12 months, while AdMob, our mobile network, has grown by more than 200 percent.

Before now, it’s been difficult for publishers to manage all their video and mobile ad space from a single ad server—the platform publishers use to schedule, measure and run the ads they’ve sold on their sites. To solve this challenge, we’re rolling out new tools in our latest version of DoubleClick for Publishers that enable publishers to better manage video and mobile inventory. Publishers will be able to manage all of the ads they’re running—across all of their webpages, videos and mobile devices—from a single dashboard, and see which formats and channels are performing best for them.

A handful of publishers have already begun using the video feature and it appears to be performing well for them: we’ve seen 55 percent month-over-month growth in video ad volume in the last quarter. In other words, publishers are now able not only to produce more video content, but to make more money from it as well.

Direct Deals on the DoubleClick Ad Exchange
Another way publishers make money is to sell their advertising via online exchanges, like the DoubleClick Ad Exchange, where they can offer their ad space to a wide pool of competing ad buyers. This has already proven to generate substantially more revenue for publishers, and as a result we’ve seen significant growth in the number of trades on our exchange (158 percent year over year).

However, publishers have told us that they’d also like the option of making some of their ad space available only to certain buyers at a certain price—similar to how an art dealer might want to offer a painting first to certain clients before giving it to an auction house to sell. So we’re introducing Direct Deals on the Doubleclick Ad Exchange, which gives publishers the ability to make these “first look” offers. For example, using Direct Deals, a news publisher could set aside all of the ad space on their sports page and offer it first to a select group of buyers at a specific price, and then if those buyers pass on the offer, automatically place that inventory into the Ad Exchange’s auction.

Looking back at that blog, news site and app, we’d like them to have one more thing in common—being able to advantage of new opportunities to grow their businesses even further. These new tools, together with the other solutions we’re continuing to develop, are designed to help businesses like them—and all our publisher partners—do just that, and get the most out of today’s advertising landscape.

Helping publishers get the most from display advertising with Admeld

(Cross-posted on the DoubleClick Publisher Blog)

It’s now clear that investments in new technologies, new ad formats and improved buying and selling processes are helping to grow the display advertising pie. This benefits publishers who make more money from display ads, users who receive free ad-funded content and marketers who are able to grow their businesses online.

However, we often hear from major website publishers that ad management today is still mind-numbingly complicated and inefficient. We’ve been investing in our publisher tools to try and improve this landscape and have made great progress, but we think we can do even better. To help major publishers get the most out of the rapidly changing and growing display ad landscape, we’ve signed an agreement to acquire Admeld, a New York-based yield optimization firm.

Here’s a basic summary of the display ad industry, from the perspective of major publishers. There are lots of different ways that they can sell their display ad space. Often, they’ll sell space directly to advertisers or agencies, using an ad server to actually deliver and measure the ads (like Microsoft’s Atlas, AOL’s AdTech, DoubleClick's DFP, Yahoo’s APT, OpenX, Zedo, 24/7 Real Media and others). Alternatively, they’ll make their ad space available indirectly—to hundreds of ad networks (like, Specific Media, Collective, 24/7, ValueClick, Vibrant, AdSense, Undertone and others), each with thousands of advertisers, or to various advertising exchanges or technology platforms (like Yahoo’s Right Media, OpenX, DoubleClick Ad Exchange, ContextWeb, AdBrite, AppNexus and others) that match them with ad buyers (like ad networks and demand side platforms) who represent advertisers, in real-time marketplaces.

Some publishers also work with a “yield optimization” provider (such as Rubicon Project, Pubmatic and others) that supplies technology to select ads from across these many indirect options, while providing personalized service and support. In a very complex and rapidly growing display ad landscape, that’s what Admeld does.

Providing better ad management services to publishers is an area that has seen a huge amount of investment in recent months. Formed just over three years ago, the Admeld team is an example of the huge strides the industry is making—it has quickly developed a great service that is helping many major publishers manage their ad space more efficiently and profitably.

By combining Admeld’s services, expertise and technology with Google’s offerings, we’re investing in what we hope will be an improved era of flexible ad management tools for major publishers. Together with Admeld, we hope to make display advertising simpler, more efficient and more valuable, provide improved support and services, and enable publishers to make more informed decisions across all their ad space. These are all things our publisher partners have been asking us to further invest in. Of course, Admeld will continue to support other ad networks, demand side platforms, exchanges and ad servers, to yield the best possible results for publishers.

We believe that this investment will be an important step to help online publishers, and will further improve and grow the display advertising industry as a whole.

There’s a perfect ad for everyone

It’s been an exciting year in the display advertising business—the movement of media online and the emergence of new technologies are causing incredible growth, and we’re investing significantly to help improve display advertising for publishers, advertisers and users. But I believe we’re poised to make even greater advances in the years ahead. We’re at the beginning of a user-focused revolution, where people connect and respond to display ads in ways we’ve never seen before.

This was the subject of a keynote I gave this morning at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Innovation Days @ Internet Week entitled “There’s a perfect ad for everyone.” You can view the recording at In the speech, I made six predictions about how display advertising will change for the better by 2015:
  1. The number of display ad impressions will decrease by 25 percent per person. Today, people are bombarded by online ads, but they don’t connect with most of these ads in a meaningful way. I believe the trend will be for people to ultimately see fewer, but better ads.
  2. Engagement rates across all display ads will increase by 50 percent. As ads become less cluttered, more relevant, more engaging and more attractive, we’ll see the rate at which people interact with display ads (such as watching videos or playing games) increase dramatically.
  3. People will have a direct say in 25 percent of the ads they see. Whether by choosing to watch—or not watch—video ads, updating their ads preferences to customize the ads they see or actively subscribing to or choosing to receive particular ads, users will be more in control of when and how they see ads online.
  4. 35 percent of campaigns will primarily use metrics beyond clicks and conversions. Technology is helping marketers measure their ads with new tools that look at factors like emotional engagement and impact on offline behavior (like in-store shopping choices). We see a longer-term future where these become the primary metrics used to measure the success of a campaign, meaning marketers will be able to deliver the ads that potential customers say they like the most.
  5. 25 billion ads per day will tell people why they are seeing them. We believe it’s important to give people as much information as possible about why they see particular ads. That’s why we’ve always included an “Ads by Google” notice, and now the AdChoices logo, on ads across the Google Display Network. We strongly support the widespread use of this logo by members of the display industry and by 2015, believe that this sort of notice will become ubiquitous.
  6. Over 40 percent of online Americans will name display ads as their favorite ad format. We recently conducted a survey with YouGov of more than 1,000 U.S. Internet users, asking them what ad formats they liked. The number of people who said they preferred display ads trailed slightly behind the number who liked glossy magazine ads, cinema ads and even sky-writing—formats that have been around for more than 50 years! We think this will change. Display ads provide an incredible platform to engage, excite and inspire. If we as marketers, publishers and technology providers can deliver experiences that delight the user, we can take this industry to new heights.
I believe that display advertising will eventually grow to become a $200 billion industry. If we make users our focus as I described this morning, it will put us well on track to reach that goal. I can’t wait to see a future in which the full potential of display ads is realized, providing a universally positive experience for people online and helping grow the businesses of publishers and marketers.

Three years of Google + DoubleClick by the numbers, and video arrives on the DoubleClick Ad Exchange

In 2008, we acquired DoubleClick, and our efforts to make the display advertising landscape a better, simpler place for users, publishers and marketers began in earnest. Today marks exactly three exciting years together. The time has flown by, and we’ve made huge strides towards our goal, largely powered by DoubleClick’s technological and industry expertise.

Here are a few of the things we’ve achieved in the past three years: we’ve offered people control over what ads they see on the web, created a new way for advertisers and publishers to buy and sell ads, given publishers a powerful tool to maximize the value of their content, introduced a way to bring a campaign to life across the web with instantly customized creative, added a platform to buy across ad exchanges in real time, enabled small advertisers to launch display campaigns in minutes, introduced a highly effective way of delivering ads to interested consumers on the Google Display Network and rolled out video ads that allow consumers to watch only the ads they want to see (while letting advertisers pay for only the ads that consumers watch).

We realize that the display industry is still complex (we actually turned to the laws of physics to help marketers navigate their way through it). But we’re getting there.

A few numbers help tell the story of the past three years:
  • 5,400,000: A rough estimate of the hours our engineers have spent working on our display business since 2008 (that’s equivalent to 616 years without sleep or rest)
  • 33 billion: Our estimate of the number of potential customers that our clients’ display ads have driven immediately to marketers’ websites (to say nothing of the exposure, engagement and brand-building that these ads enable)
  • 5: On sites in the Google Display Network, the number of times larger that spending on display ads is today, compared to three years ago (that’s like a toddler growing to the size of a one-story house)
We’re kicking off year four with another step towards our overall vision: the addition of video ad formats to the DoubleClick Ad Exchange. We’re about to start a beta test, allowing Ad Exchange buyers to run in-stream video ads on YouTube using real-time bidding technology. (We’ll eventually extend this capability to include additional video formats and will serve ads on more videos across the web.)

We think that video ads are going to quickly become an even bigger piece of the display landscape. And in our own survey with Digiday, about 20% of marketers indicated that they wanted to use real-time bidding to buy video ads this year. Combining the power of exchange buying with the potential of video will to help grow the advertising pie (or in honor of today’s anniversary, cake) for everyone.

We can’t wait to see what else the next year has in store.

Update 10:53 AM: Fixed one of our estimates.

The three laws of display advertising physics

It’s not just the Android team that is exploring the outer reaches of our galaxy. In recent years, advertising technology has had its own “Big Bang": a rapid onset of incredible growth and expansion in the display advertising universe.

Display advertising is one of our big focus areas. Better display advertising helps to fund the websites and content we all use and read, provides useful and engaging commercial information, and helps large and small advertisers to reach new customers, increase sales and grow their businesses.

Just as the laws of physics have helped us make sense of our own expanding universe, we think that there are three “laws of display advertising physics” to help advertisers and agencies thrive. We’ve laid out these laws and what they mean for advertisers and agencies on our Agency Ad Solutions Blog:
  1. The Theory of Relativity: The distinction between different advertising technologies (like ad networks and demand side platforms) is blurring. Each of these technologies provides similar ways to achieve your marketing goals, depending on how you want to manage your campaign.

  2. Fusion Theory: There’s a few different ways to deliver ads to people. Each on their own is powerful, but combining these different ways unlocks the best results.

  3. The Law of Perpetual Motion: New technology is driving rapid change in display advertising—which is constantly improving marketers’ creative palettes and the way that ads are bought and sold. Embracing new media and technology provides a key way for marketers to differentiate and grow their businesses in a new universe.
The expansion in the advertising industry is leading towards a future with a better advertising universe for everyone—where people see more relevant, useful ads, publishers get better returns to fund their content and marketers can run more effective campaigns.