Well, that’s one way to sidestep controversy.
Back in June, ad intelligence provider Adalytics published a report which suggested that around 75% of the ads purchased through Google’s TrueView video campaign offering have been displayed on surfaces that do not meet the stated standards for TrueView ad placement. Most notably, Adalytics claimed that the majority of in-stream ads purchased through the option were eventually served muted and auto-playing “as out-stream video or as obscured video players on independent sites”.
So rather than premium in-stream placement, Google, according to the report, had been serving these ads on lesser display surfaces, increasing overall impressions, but likely producing lesser results.
Google refuted the analysis, but interestingly, Google has now seemingly taken an unusual step to address this, by changing the name of its “in-stream” ad offering to “skippable ads” instead.
As explained by YouTube:
“To more accurately describe the ad format, the YouTube ad format "in-stream ads" is now named "skippable ads" throughout Display & Video 360. There are no campaign creation or management workflow changes as a result of this naming update, but we recommend making sure your teams are aware of the new names.”
So it’s not even called “in-stream” anymore, so you can’t complain about alternative placement.
Google has further clarified that the name change relates to all awareness and consideration campaigns in Display and Video 360, with the update being made “to simplify naming conventions between awareness formats”.
Which may be the true motivation, but it does seem interesting that it’s renaming the exact format that was brought into question, in a way that would mean future concerns around the same would be less valid, given that it’s not specifically titled “in-stream”
Of course, that doesn’t change the substance of the Adalytics report, which is still the subject of a pending class action lawsuit, and could end up costing Google billions in refunds as a result. But it is an interesting side note, which will also be of relevance to those running TrueView campaigns moving forward.
The updated name also better aligns with the IAB’s standards on in-stream video formats, which could ensure Google avoids further complications as questions are raised around ad impressions and performance.
So there are reasons beyond the Adalytics report to update the naming conventions. But still, it could also have an impact in that case, which may have given Google a strong nudge to make the shift.
Either way, worth noting for Google marketers.