Google May Have Charged Advertisers for Skippable In-Stream Ads that Violated Own Guidelines, Claims Ad Research Firm

Google May Have Charged Advertisers for Skippable In-Stream Ads that Violated Own Guidelines, Claims Ad Research Firm

Published: June 28, 2023

Google may have misled advertisers about its TrueView skippable ads for years, costing media buyers up to billions of digital ad dollars, an advertising research organization has claimed.

In a report, advertising research organization Adalytics said that “significant quantities of TrueView skippable in-stream ads, purchased by many different brands and media agencies, appear to have been served on hundreds of thousands of websites and apps in which the consumer experience did not meet Google’s stated quality standards.”

TrueView is Google’s proprietary video ad format that serves ads on YouTube, apps, and across the web. With TrueView, advertisers only pay “for actual views of their ads, rather than impressions.” This means that viewers must watch at least 30 seconds of an ad or the entire length of the ad if it’s less than 30 seconds long.

According to Google’s and YouTube’s policies, these ads must also be skippable, audible, and be initiated by a viewer’s action.

However, Adalytics’ research showed that advertisers, which include Fortune 500 brands and the U.S. federal government, may have been charged since 2020 for ads that did not meet Google’s own guidelines.

“The firm reviewed the ad campaigns of over 1,000 brands across the internet, and found many of the TrueView ads did not meet Google’s own guidelines, including some ads that were run in small video players in the corner or at the side of the screen, some which were fully muted, had no actual video content between ads, or ran with little interaction or activation from the user,” Adalytics said.

In addition, the skip button was hidden or obscured in some ads, making it challenging for users to skip after five seconds.

In a blog post, Google’s Director of Global Video Solutions, Marvin Renaud, called the report “extremely inaccurate” and asserted that advertisers only pay for ads when they are viewed.

“Brands care deeply about where their ads are placed and so do we,” said Renaud, adding that it’s the advertisers who were in control.

“When advertisers create video ad campaigns, they can clearly see that their ads may run on third-party sites via GVP during the campaign setup. We offer the option to opt out at any time. They can also decide where their content may appear. Advertisers can exclude specific websites and URLs along with entire topics or apps they wish to avoid when running ads,” Renaud said.

Renaud added that in 2022, Google stopped serving ads on over 143,000 sites who were found to be violating its policies.

Subscribe to Spotlight Newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest industry news