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Google accused of misleading advertisers and violating its own guidelines in new report

Google accused of misleading advertisers and violating its own guidelines in new report

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Google may have misled advertisers including Fortune 500 brands, the US federal government, and many small businesses with regards to its ad viewership, according to a new report by advertising research organisation Adalytics

The misalignment likely came from Google’s proprietary TrueView skippable in-stream video ads which Adalytics estimates cost media buyers up to "billions of digital ad dollars", which were ultimately spent on "small, muted, out-stream, auto-playing or interstitial video ad units running on independent websites and mobile apps".

TrueView is Google's proprietary cost-per-view ad format that is displayed on YouTube, apps, and across the web. With TrueView, advertisers only pay when people actually view their ads rather than impressions. That said TrueView will ask users if they want to skip the video ad they are watching after five seconds.

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Adalytics said that it found out that many advertisers who were paying for TrueView ads outside YouTube were not getting what they paid for and additionally, not getting consumer experience that meets Google's stated quality standards.

"For example, many TrueView in-stream ads were served muted and auto-playing as out-stream video or as obscured video players on independent sites. Often, there was little to no organic video media content between ads, the video units simply played ads only," said Adalytics.

For its research, Adalytics reviewed ad campaigns of over 1,000 brands and found that many TrueView ads did not meet Google’s own guidelines. Some of these ads were run in small video players at the corner of the screen, some were muted, and some has no video content between ads which resulted in them running with little user interaction. 

Adalytics added that they found ads which hid its skip buttons to make it more difficult for users to skip the ads after five seconds. 

Some of the brands affected include Bayer, TikTok, American Express, Sephora, Disney Plus, Ford, Microsoft, Zillow and more. 

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Google continues to profit from climate disinformation despite pledging against it
Why Google removed over 5.2 billion ads on its platform in 2022

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