Google’s Display Dominance

With the recent announcement that Google confirms AdMeld buy, it’s an interesting time to look at the ‘search giant’ and see the advertising machine that it has amassed. What would a Google ownership of AdMeld mean? What is Google’s display media play?

Google has made no secret of its desire to dominate the display media market. With the modernisation of the display market in full swing, it is an excellent time for a company with Google’s credentials to take a leading role in the path forward. Display is getting more like search in accountability and the way it is offered. Interesting times…

So what ad products would Google have:

Search (search engine marketing) – Google is the heavyweight champ

Premium ads (guaranteed inventory) – AdMeld

Mass media (reach inventory) – AdWords, DoubleClick Exchange, and Invite Media

Audience targeting (demography, location, etc.) – Can work with search, premium, or mass media

Behavioural targeting (recorded user actions) – Can also work with search, premium, or mass media

Mobile ads (served to apps and web pages) – AdMob is a leading global player

The real key behind this revolution is data. Google has deployed a virtual armada of data collection points. Not only does Google know what you have been searching for, but now Chrome knows what pages you have been to, what you buy, and what media you consume. Combine that with DoubleClick and Google understands your paths to purchase. Latitude, Google Maps, Chrome, and Android know where you are. Gmail knows who you know. Google Analytics gives a deeper picture of conversion events.

I am not trying to be a scaremonger, but I think this is great for the marketing industry. It may make regulatory bodies tremble and well-informed consumers militant, but ultimately it’s only about selling things. Our whole lives revolve around either buying things or selling things. I am fascinated at how this new set of tools will be deployed and how they will be used.

Google is in the platform business now. The DSP (demand-side platform) is an amazing concept. A market place of display media market places. Where working through either existing exchanges or private custom exchanges, agencies can conduct their display business with greater economy and accuracy. It also allows uniform retargeting across enormous reach and diverse inventory.

Let’s say that through a combination of Chrome page visits and DoubleClick Spotlight tags, Google has identified you as a person in a particular point in a buying cycle for a ‘high-ticket’ purchase. Let’s say that they can define the radius of your potential travel to buy the item from analysis of your location data. Let’s say they also know your media preferences and advertising interaction history. How valuable is this information to the retailer of that expensive item?

Now AdMeld is not a DSP, it’s an SSP (supply-side platform). It has premium ad space and none of the bumps and warts that an ad exchange suffers from. This may be crucial in the media buyer ‘comfort factor’ stakes as the display ad market transitions from ‘placement’-based buying to an ‘audience’-based model.

Google has the display media market staked out. The two most exciting display venues emerging (being mobile and video) Google has a major seat at the game with AdMob, Android, and YouTube. It has DART (a major ad serving infrastructure) being used by sites and advertisers. It has the performance-end covered with Invite Media, search, and the Google Display Network. AdMeld would provide nicely for the premium end of the market.

AdMeld also comes along with an existing roster of high-end sites and a working real-time bidding technology (something rumoured to be eluding Google’s engineers).

My first thought when I mapped all this out (see below) was, “what will Google do in the DMP (data management platform) market?” I am not convinced it has to do anything. It’s emerging as one of the most formidable data sources in the world already. The display ad market allows Google to reach out to people who are not reaching out to them. It’s a new age!

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