Google’s take on the future of online display ads

Google has begun a series of blog posts laying out their “vision for online display advertising in the years ahead.” The first post, by Vice President of Product Management Susan Wojcicki, looks back at the foundation Google has built for online display ads, including the “hundreds of thousands of engineering hours” they’ve invested in the problem. It cites the acquisition and subsequent enhancements to DoubleClick. And Wojcicki says Google has put “hundreds of thousands” of engineering hours into display ad technology, including enhancements to DoubleClick and the creation of the Ad Exchange.

It all sounds great, but overall, the post is little more than a hagiography of Google’s efforts to date. No mention is made of how ad exchanges have encouraged a race to the bottom on rate. There’s a lot of bullish talk about “the incredible creative units that we see today.” Not so much talk about consumer tendency to ignore ads, the rock-bottom rates most display ads command and the anemic clickthrough rates they generate. I’d also like to know where Google sees the “branding” function of online display ads going. Clicks aren’t the only way to measure value. Impressions do matter. How is Google planning to help advertisers understand the value that impressions can create?

I hope that as the series progresses, Google will address some of the specific problems publishers are seeing as they try to build business models that rely on display ads. What I’d really love to see are some case studies of how things are working (or failing to work) now and how Google’s vision of the future would alter these case studies …