From garage start-up to global brand, the now monolith of Internet dominance is no stranger to scrutiny, and none more so then since acquiring leading ad serving company Doubleclick last year for $3.1Bn. The tactical move was to seek to control the lion’s share of online display as well as search advertising in order to build a single platform for inventory management. However, the backlash of media attention over antitrust concerns was rife, especially as privacy groups pushed the issue of data retention and ownership to reach the heights of the European Commission.
Now just over a year later, in what will be seen once more as incredible turn about face strategy, Google has decided to open up their Content Network to accept online display advertising served by third-party ad servers; companies who could very much be competitors in this space to DoubleClick.
Expert data analysis is a key aspect for most advertisers and their respective agencies, affording unique insights into building more effective and relevant advertising messages to their audiences. This makes media agencies irreplaceable in the advertising making process. Google’s previous policy had sparked concerns over how they viewed the future for agencies. Agencies feared that existing models were in jeopardy, with their role as media planners and buyers being potentially downplayed in favour of ease of entry and to advanced optimisation afforded by the merger. This latest move seeks to address this head-on.
The industry has remained decidedly inventory-agnostic from an agency perspective, with independence in ad serving often a key aspect for choosing a potential vendor, brought about partially by having a comparison for delivery outside of a publisher’s control. The additional outlay for ad serving is outweighed by potential overall media costs saved – it is an external checkpoint for actual delivered inventory. That is to say nothing of the additional benefits competitive vendors bring to this space from service to innovation. All this has been a hard position for Google to find themselves in, as it was their very openness that helped them build up their search dominance in the first place.
In truth, the move by Google to open up its network is not just to address agencies concerns, but fuelled in part by a desire to capitalise on revenue streams that are currently blocked. Many advertisers would have overlooked the benefits of reach afforded by Google’s Content Network due to existing preferential relationships with ad serving companies other than DoubleClick, especially with providers who service the more interactive formats that rich media offers. A potential Microsoft-Yahoo relationship – both of whom are open to external ad serving suppliers – will also have prompted a rethink in strategy within the Google camp.
Just as Google could foresee the fall outs over data retention and quickly moved to limit the length of time it would store data, so once again we see an incredibly tactical decision to compete against Microsoft’s competition in the advertising space by too opening up their network. With Eyeblaster, the largest global supplier of rich media online now approved by Google, we can expect to see more interactive ads driving actual conversions within banners running across their network, which will continue to help monetise the long tail. The result is good for the entire industry.
Google has always been very effective at reducing the barriers to entry in online advertising and simplifying the buying process. This latest move today ensures such continued openness will no doubt be seen as a welcome addition to the media mix as well as an incredible confidence boost by most agencies that no longer need to fear for their lives.