As reported, Google has provided refunds to multiple clients after allegations from industry advocate Adalytics that it had mispositioned 80% of video advertisements, leading to substantial disruption within the industry.
Anonymous clients, who chose to remain unnamed, confirmed to Ad Age that they and others had received refunds. Google did acknowledge providing refunds and credits but denied any connection to the Adalytics report, which it labeled as “wildly inaccurate.”
The controversy revolves around a program called “Google Video Partners” (GVP), which diverts a portion of client spending on YouTube to various third-party websites. Advertisers are not given the choice to opt out of this program, but Google insists that it rigorously screens partners based on strict criteria.
These criteria include prerequisites such as ads being audible, nonintrusive, and skippable. However, according to the findings by Adalytics, these standards were often not met, and ads would frequently appear on low-quality sites hosting clickbait or even pirated content.
This news prompted clients to seek refunds and demand greater transparency from Google. Some even anticipated regulatory involvement. Adalytics discovered that campaign ads from a US senator, who had introduced a bill advocating for Google to divest parts of its ad business, were also placed incorrectly.
Despite the passing of more than a month, regulatory intervention has not taken shape, leaving Google to manage the aftermath on its own terms. Even though Google is refuting the accuracy of the Adalytics report, the fact that they issued refunds implies an acknowledgment that they need to rebuild trust with advertisers.
It’s improbable that Google or its clients will reveal the exact amount paid out in refunds. However, the fact that some clients have received refunds might encourage others to also seek redress.
On the downside, Google retains the ability to manage payouts on a case-by-case basis and at its own discretion, without being bound by a formal refund system or regulatory guidelines enforced by an industry organization.
Google seems to believe that it’s valuable to proactively address and rebuild advertiser trust. Yet, for those who have lost confidence in the platform, there aren’t many alternatives available. This is due to Google’s overwhelming dominance in the realm of digital video advertising.
In recent months, Google has been heavily engaged in advertising matters. Gannett filed a lawsuit against Google, accusing it of monopolizing ad-tech markets. Just days prior, the EU recommended the separation of Google’s ad business.