Publishers are Not Happy about Google Ad Metrics Report


We’ve known about Facebook’s dodgy metrics for ages now. But Google somehow seemed to remain above the fray.

The party’s over.

“Google’s recent research showing that publishers stand to lose 52% of programmatic ad revenue if they can’t use third-party cookie ad targeting has gone down like a lead balloon with some major publishers,” writes Jessica Davies in Digiday.

“On Aug. 22, Google released a string of blog posts relating to its plans around tightening data privacy. Among them was a set of research results conducted using data from 500 global publishers that run programmatic ads via Google Ad Manager,” Davies continues. “The results stated that when cookies aren’t used for ad targeting, publishers lose an average 52% of programmatic ad revenue, while for news publishers that’s even higher at 62%, according to Google.”

Let that number sink in for a minute …. 50-60% of these ad budgets could be an absolute waste. That makes the 18% fraud rate at Instagram look like very small potatoes.

To blame for this, according to Google, is Apple’s Safari browser and similar anti-tracking tech, which slammed the lid on the digital cookie jar back in 2017. But that’s not the entire story, some publishers claim.

“The application of the math is wrong,” said an executive at a major publisher who spoke on condition of anonymity, according to Davies. “If we have $1 billion in total ads, of which 20% is spent in cookie-less environments, then removing cookies everywhere should result in $1 billion being spent equally across all browsers. Not as Google indicates — only having $400,000,000 left.”

It’s quite a mess, really. Consumers like anti-cookie technology and are grown weary of constant ad tracking. Ad platforms rely on consumer data to provide value to advertisers. And we all have to remember that this industry is still in, if not its infancy, at most its terrible twos.

There is much talk in publisher, and ad tech circles, about the development of standardized IDs that aren’t reliant on third-party cookies but can be used at scale. But a viable, independent product contender is yet to emerge.

“The bigger concern is still how Chrome will implement cookie-blocking for users,” said an ad ops executive at a publisher, Davies writes.

“The hope is that by publishing the revenue-loss research Google intends to still allow cookie-tracking and therefore publishers’ audience-targeting campaigns won’t be severely hit,” she continues.

Until then, all anyone can do is wait and see – and keep a close eye on exactly what you’re buying when you place those digital ads.