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Google changes ad policy to favour ‘viewability’

Google is updating the way it charges for online ads by offering its clients the option to pay for only those ads that are seen by web users.

The search engine's new Active View system should benefit advertisers by offering improved insights and transparency in terms of how successful an ad campaign really is.

"Even the jingliest, jolliest ad of the season can't work its magic unless it gets seen," Google project manager James Beser said in a blogpost. "That has been the driving force behind a number of investments we've been making over the past year to make viewability a core part of our products."

The service will be offered across the two million sites on Google's Display Network, using the Active View system. Active View determines if an ad has been seen by measuring whether 50 per cent of the ad was visible on the web page for more than one second.

"Through an algorithmic review of publisher sites, our systems will show ads only in ad slots most likely to be viewable, and you only pay for the ones measured as viewable according to the IAB/3MS standard," said Beser.

"As we've said before, making viewability a basis for buying, selling and measuring media can help transform the digital marketplace. With access to more meaningful metrics, brand advertisers can unleash their most creative campaigns, knowing they'll have a chance to shine."

Whether or not the Active View system accounts for bot traffic is not specified by Beser. A recent study revealed that this issue is a growing problem for online advertisers, with almost two thirds of all web traffic now accounted for by bots.