A report from Adalytics, an ad research organization, claims that Google misled advertisers about its TrueView skippable in-stream video ads. The company claims that “this misalignment may have cost media buyers up to billions of digital ad dollars.” 

Google is showing more ads to 3rd party apps and websites

Advertisers such as Fortune 500, the U.S. federal government and others are just some of the entities that Adalytics claims were misled by Google. The report further claims that instead of skippable, audible ads initiated by viewer action, the ads that companies have paid for are spent on “small, muted, out-stream, auto-playing or interstitial video ad units running on independent websites and mobile apps.” 

In partnership with other ad agencies, Adalytics reviewed over 1,000 campaigns from 2020 until present and found that “between 42 to 75% of TrueView in-stream ad spend was allocated to GVP sites,” and only 16 percent of it was spent on YouTube. 

Most of these GVP or Google Video Partner Networks where the ads were placed are mobile apps or websites that did not meet Google’s standards for TrueView in-stream, a lot of them are even declared bots, which Adalytics claims is a big violation. 

Such ads were placed on pages that have little video content in between the ads, with muted video player and skip button being almost hidden so the viewers are forced to watch the ads. There are also instances where the ads are “stacked” on top of other “in-stream” ads. In Adalytics report, 131 brands and ten media agencies may have purchased the mis-declared TrueView ads. 

Google’s response to Adalytics report

In Google’s response to this report, Director of Global Video Solutions Marvin Renaud wants to set the record straight and wrote, “The claims in the third-party report simply aren’t right. Put simply, over 90% of ads on GVP are visible to people across the web — and advertisers are only paying for ads when they are viewed.” 

Regulation on ad placement policies

Google’s ad placement has been an ongoing issue. There was documented news showing ads from major brands to terrorist organizations’ channels and studies showing how Google earned millions of dollars from showing misdirecting “abortion seekers” to unsafe clinics. The question lies in how these ads are being regulated despite Google claiming that they are actively claiming policies on its ad placement practices.