Fear Of A Google Planet – Google Ad Planner Is About To Change Everything

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I saw Google‘s new media and Web measurement tool, Google Ad Planner, yesterday in action. It’s scary good. To date, people planning advertising and media buys have had very limited "real" data and measurement to make their choices. Everyone in the advertising world knows (but doesn’t talk about) the fact that most numbers are either fabricated or best guess-timated by using a third party audience measurement company. These third-party companies usually run panels and surveys, collate the data, massage it with their own algorithm and provide data that some people love, and some hate.

It has always been a messy science and although Google hasn’t solved it with Google Ad Planner, it does seem like the information I saw was very detailed. My guess is that it’s being pulled by Web servers, ad servers, etc… and if anyone has the technological power to house and manipulate this type of data, it would be Google.

The jury is not out on the product yet (as far as I can see, it is still only available as a private beta by invite only), but it has already got some media executives excited (both good and bad).

Check this article out from The Globe And Mail titled, Google Set To Roll Out Web-measurement Tool, from Tuesday, June 24th, 2008 by Emily Steel:

"Some ad executives say they are concerned that Google could use the data it compiles about their campaigns to make a business pitch to a competitor. They imagine a scenario in which the biggest online advertiser in a category is running its campaign through Google’s ad-serving systems. Not only would Google be helping that marketer deliver ads to particular websites; it would also be capturing data about which websites and types of ads work best. Advertising executives fear that Google could then resell that same intelligence to competitors. (Any data that marketers put into Google’s ad systems will remain confidential, a Google spokesman says)."

Is the fear really in corporate espionage, or is the fear what we’re really going to find out about which ads perform, and which ones don’t? Is the fear really about Google having too many fingers in too many advertising pies, or is the fear that we’re actually going to be able to see which websites have audiences and how engaged their audience really is with online advertising?

In addition:

"Separately, Google this week is expected to roll out a new tool aimed at showing how Web surfers respond to online ads. It will compare groups of people who are exposed to an ad with others who haven’t seen it, taking into account such factors as search activity and site visitation… Marketer are hungry for research that helps them compare the results of offline and online ads so that they can allocate their marketing budgets more intelligently. Google could be positioned to serve this one-stop-shopping role."

Will this be a case of reality bites… or reality bytes?


  1. Although I’m no fan of the traditional panel approach to measuring online audiences, I do have a push-back on your post.
    In regards to most numbers being either fabricated or best-guesstimated – that’s not really a fact. The numbers Media Buyers use are based on statistically valid sample sizes that are representative of the overall population. For me, the issue is less about the validity of the data and more about a) turnaround time from exposure to reporting and b) the ability to look at the data from a few different angles (i.e. exposure, length of exposure, interaction, etc). Really, the story is that we’ve crammed a traditional one-way mass media measurement process into a fully interactive environment that can provide real-time results. Google is working to fix that.
    But, my concern with Google is that they’ve only given limited access to their data-collection process. I understand they are using cookies for data collection. I’m not very techie, but I believe this means if you have set your browser not to accept or you regularly delete cookies, you are not being counted (please correct me if I am wrong). Also, I can’t seem to find any information on how they process the data or what sites they are pulling data from. Does the data stream from the internet right to my dashboard? If not, what kind of processing happens between point A and point B? Are they scouring all sites on the internet? Are they excluding certain sites? Why?
    I’m not dismissing AdPlanner, but I’m not willing to give it the title of panacea either. Not yet.
    One final note – I think agencies are more concerned with data becoming too easy than they are corporate espionage. If you make it so easy to determine which sites you should work with, who needs the middle man?

  2. It’s too soon to call the game on Google Adplanner, despite the headline that was attributed to me in this week’s Media in Canada (since changed) however Google is a making a huge push to make things easier for the online media planner by building (and buying) all the components necessary to ease workflow. So from planning to trafficking to reporting can be all operated in a Google product. One question is will it be the best product to do so or will someone else challenge them or is it best to combine best of breed products?
    The other side to look at is this; if media planning and buying is becoming more like the stock exchange, then just access to the system doesn’t make you a winning trader. Google is aiming to make many powerful of tools available free but how those tools are used and what other data can be brought to bear will separate the small shops from the bigger players. And it will separate the big players who are still focused on “old media” buying methods versus “new media buying methods based on data and digital infastructures”. Time will tell but my bet would be on companies who own data not just handle it.

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