A recent report by research firm Adalytics has alleged that Google has been breaching their advertising standards with their Google TrueView program and Google Video Partners over the past three years.
The report claims that despite customers being promised “skippable, audible, and initiated by viewer action” videos, the adverts served through these programs were actually played automatically and continuously in out-stream video players, violating Google’s own standards.
According to the report, only 20% of the TrueView ad campaign budget was utilized on YouTube channels, while the remaining 80% was distributed to third-party apps and websites.
Adalytics quotes a digital advertising professional who received an advanced copy of the report, stating, “Repackaging brand-unsafe outstream as instream is a major problem. That seems like a fraud.”
Interestingly, mobile gaming was not exempt from these questionable ad placements. Despite Google specifying that placing ads in mobile games contradicts their standards, 22% of all TrueView ads were served on invalid mobile applications.
Popular titles like Words With Friends and Candy Crush Saga were among the biggest recipients of TrueView ad spend, with Candy Crush Saga ranking in the top five for both iOS and Android.
It should be noted that Google does allow ads to be served to third parties, specifically trusted sources like Google Video Partners. According to Google, these partners are high-quality publisher websites and mobile apps where videos ads can be shown to viewers beyond YouTube.
Potential Impact on the Mobile Gaming Industry
This report’s focus on major titles like Candy Crush Saga and Words With Friends is particularly significant. As a substantial portion of mobile gaming revenue comes from ads, the fallout from this report could have a tremendous impact and raise serious concerns for both Google and its customers.
Users on Twitter have raised the possibility that affected advertisers may be eligible for refunds, which could prove catastrophic for Google, potentially costing them billions of dollars.
The Wall Street Journal and other independent analyses have corroborated the seriousness of these allegations, further reinforcing the claims made in Adalytics’ report.
Google has denied these allegations thus far, but the outcome remains uncertain.
Given Google’s previous setbacks related to advertising dominance and anti-competitive practices, including facing legal action from the European Commission, this latest news could intensify scrutiny from legislators and authorities.