Digital marketers praised Google's new measurement tools, but said they might not go far enough to make display advertising more accountable.
On Wednesday Google said it's offering the tool, Active View, which is designed to measure whether an ad has actually been viewed.
"This is a way to help advertisers only pay for display ads that are actually seen, and that's a good thing for the whole industry," said Augustine Fou, a digital strategy advisor. However, he said, Google may have a difficult time winning adoption. That's because ad agencies and ad networks have become accustomed to buying and selling billions of impressions – regardless of whether they're seen.
Fou said he's reserving judgment about the tool's effectiveness until he learns how it technically works and measures what's a "viewable" ad.
"They said they are going to use a statistical estimation of [what's viewed]. That's not good enough," he said. "The devil is going to be in the details."
Kevin Lee, CEO of Didit, said Google's plan is a step in the right direction.
"Many would prefer that Google took its proposal a step further and allow for some form of ad engagement measure or allow for duration variables to be set longer than one second in-view," he said via email.
To define a "viewed impression," Google said it's using the Interactive Adverting Bureau's proposed standard: a display ad that is viewable on the screen for at least one second.
"We think that with brand new metrics comes a new brand moment - one that will encourage brands to invest in the web, help publishers show the value of their digital content, and stimulate digital media's own golden age," Neal Mohan, VP, display advertising at Google, wrote Wednesday in a blog post.
Google also said it's rolling out another tool, Active GRP, or gross rating post. It is designed to allow advertisers to instantaneously adjust their advertising campaigns.
"GRP, or a gross rating point, is at the heart of offline media measurement. For example, when a fashion brand wants their TV campaign to reach 2 million women with two ads each, they use GRP to measure that," Google said in a blog post. TV advertisers use GRP, which measures the reach (the percentage of people in a potential audience who have been exposed to an ad) and frequency (the number of exposures to the same message).
Active GRP, which has been launched in a pilot program for Google DoubleClick for Advertisers customers, is built into its ad-serving tools.
In August 2011, Nielsen launched Online Campaign Ratings. It's a GRP-style rating service hinged on Facebook data, while also combining the research company's TV and online consumer behavior panel. What's more, other vendors such as comScore have rolled out products designed to help ad buyers measure only those impressions that are potentially visible to a user.
Fou said he typically advises his clients to use paid search advertising. For those using display advertising, he recommends that clients pay on a cost-per-click basis, rather than for impressions.