So Google launched Ad Planner yesterday at an Advertising Research Foundation event in New York City. Ad Planner is an online analytical tool that gives advertisers deep information on which sites their targeted audience is visiting. Designed to make media buying more efficient, it puts Google in direct competition with comScore and Nielsen Online. A key difference here is that Ad Planner is free.
Ad Planner allows users to enter demographics of target audiences along with potential sites on which to advertise into its system. The system then, presumably through data gleaned from web servers, will then spit out sites that an advertiser should consider for a media plan. It would seem that it is an easy to use, inexpensive system to use.
Subscription fees from survey based services such as comScore and Nielsen can be exorbitant. This further democratizes the web.
But free can come with a cost and that’s what others are worried about.
Google, in this capacity, may not be acting as an independently-owned third party delivering unbiased information. There’s always a chance that the system may be tweaked to produce results that favor Google-owned property. And, and the launch yesterday, Google product manager told a questioner that Google will get its data from a “fusion” of different data sources. A follow up question as to whether or not Google will accept external audits was left unanswered.
That’s not a great sign. But Google is now powerful enough that they can get away with not answering that while it brings in users. Users like, quite frankly, me.
Thus is the nature of the web.