- Google has introduced AdSense Auto ads that use machine learning to make placement and monetization decisions on behalf of publishers, a Google Inside AdSense blog post announced.
- Auto ads are optimized to display only when they are most likely to perform best and provide a good user experience. The service analyzes pages and automatically identifies and fills available ad space to help drive results.
- Publishers can choose from a list of ad formats, such as in-page text and display ads, in-article ads, in-feed ads, matched content, and overlay anchor and vignette ads, and then add them to their pages with one piece of code. The different ad formats can be easily switched on or off, or changed out, per Google.
The news shows how Google is trying to provide publishers with new and ostensibly better monetization options at a time when a broad push for better quality digital content has resulted in some other options being blocked or becoming less appealing. By leveraging machine learning to power this new solution, Google is appealing to the need for greater efficiency in digital media placement. However, the success of AdSense Auto ads will be dependent on how effective the technology is at identifying the best advertising opportunities for marketers while balancing this with the need for a strong user experience. Automated processes like programmatic have run afoul of advertisers in the past year for eliminating so much control from media buying that brands' ads end up on low-quality or low-traffic sites.
Google’s new AdSense Auto ads is designed to enable publishers to streamline and optimize their digital monetization because it does a lot of the work for them. Using machine learning, the new tool can uncover what kinds of ads will perform best and where they should be placed. If the program is effective for advertisers, this could help publishers build stronger relationships with marketers.
The machine learning-powered platform also takes user experience into account. Google has made several moves lately that it has said are aimed at prioritizing higher quality content and user experience, in part by limiting exposure to ads. The company launched a new version of Chrome last month that lets users mute reminder ads and entire sites that auto-play videos.
However, critics suggest that the changes to Chrome may be more about improving the company’s bottom line, and the ad-blocking policy would mostly not apply to ads placed on Google sites, which could encourage more advertisers to direct more ad dollars at the company. Google has dismissed accusations that it had too much influence over which ads would be blocked and that it was just one of several companies developing rules for the Coalition for Better Ads, which formed in 2016 to test multiple desktop and mobile ad formats. The coalition identified six desktop and 12 mobile “unacceptable” ad formats that have been blacklisted.
Improving users’ digital experiences has been at the top of marketers’ minds, as the rate of ad-blocking software increased 16% from 2016 to 2017, which was projected to cost U.S. publishers $15.8 billion in revenue last year. Consumers continuously cite obtrusiveness, disruptiveness and annoyance for certain ad formats, such as pop-ups, flashing animated ads and auto-play videos, as their reasons for using ad-blockers.