Google To Offer 'Mute' Button, Develops Cloud-Based Measurement System

Google has announced plans to roll out a cross-channel mute button for ads running in Google Search and on YouTube, as well as a cloud-based measurement system that company engineers will develop during the coming year.

The measurement system will focus on generating and securing data pulled from across devices to give advertisers better insights into their campaigns. The focus on mobile and cross-screen advertising will support ads on Google and YouTube.

With more than 50% of YouTube views on mobile devices, the changes aim to offer advertisers a new perspective and help them determine where and when to invest budgets by better understanding the impact of campaigns.

Jonathan Kagan, senior director of search and biddable media at MARC USA Results:Digital, believes the change will help to further improve targeting capabilities. "We will get a better sense of what demographic is impacted by which device in the purchase funnel," he said. "The biggest challenge, I think, will be mere growing pains around how to properly segment the data to give insights that are still statistically significant."

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As Google engineers build out this new measurement system, the company will work closely with MRC-accredited companies like comScore, DoubleVerify, IAS, MOAT, and Nielsen. Collectively, the group accounts for the majority of third-party measurement on YouTube. It will enable advertisers to independently measure and verify the performance of their campaigns.

With many advertisers treating YouTube as direct response, this move attempts to refocus the site as a brand awareness channel, said David Grow, digital media director at Chacka Marketing. "Third-party vendors such as comScore and Nielsen measure reach and provide good data segmentation, such as demographics, rather than clicks and conversions, which is the focus of pixel-based measurement technology," he said. "This signals a shift by Google in how advertisers should view YouTube and is likely aimed to tap into brand TV dollars, migrating more offline ad dollars to online to boost Alphabet's revenue."

Site visitors also will continue to have control on the types of ads they see on YouTube and across Google's network through controls in My Account, but a new feature -- which Google will roll out in the coming weeks -- will enable users to mute the same ad across channels, from Google Search to YouTube. Now ads from that advertiser will also be muted when they watch videos on YouTube.

If someone sees an ad for a type of kitchen tile or faucet, for example, but has already bought the products in a store, Google will now allow the user to mute that ad in search, which in turn prevents the ad from serving up in YouTube as well.

"I'm not concerned about cross-device ad muting, since I believe very few people mute ads," David Szetela, CEO at paid-search ad agency FMB Media. 

Scott Linzer, VP of owned media at iCrossing, calls the changes an "encouraging development" in that advertisers should gain a better understanding of cross-device audiences across the YouTube network.  

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