Google AdPlanner aims to demolish incumbents: Williams

Google launched its new end-to-end AdPlanner tool in New York yesterday. MiC asked Media Contacts managing director Chris Williams for some insights on what the launch means for Canadian media planners, comScore and other players.

At 5 pm yesterday, during the Advertising Research Foundation’s Audience Measurement 3.0 conference in New York, the official launch of Google AdPlanner was announced. Google AdPlanner is widely expected to compete with the growing field of web measurement players, including comScore, Nielsen Online, Hitwise, Quantcast and Alexa.

The New York Times broke the story early on Monday, reporting that Google was about to launch something big for the media buying community. An advisory about the forthcoming announcement had been posted at the ARF website and then removed, although Google’s own cache option lets users see what was posted. Yesterday, the blogosphere started humming with details about the pending announcement and the new service. Some were calling it an ‘ad agency killer.’ In some areas, marketers can already use Google to buy TV, print and radio spots, in addition to online advertising. The company just keeps rolling out new (and free) products for marketers and the media industry.

Chris Williams, managing director at Toronto’s Media Contacts, tells MiC the latest ‘end-to-end’ solution aims to ‘demolish the incumbents.’ He says Google is pressing forward with what seems to be a solution that encompasses media planning, buying, trafficking and reporting. This new product is ‘an important new piece in the media planner’s toolbox, along with other Google products such as search, DoubleClick and the AdSense Network, which may affect new media planning concepts on a large scale, especially in Canada,’ says Williams. ‘Whoever has the most data wins. That’s the game being played in the media industry, and while online media is at warp speed, offline media slumbers along.’

A media planner can now use both Google Analytics and Google AdPlanner to integrate and optimize offline buys, SEO and SEM, and reinforce it all with online display ads. ‘Google AdPlanner will be widely adopted while incumbents make way and find new markets and opportunities,’ says Williams. ‘As the online tools continue to get better, they will have scope-changing implications for the way overall media gets planned – much to the chagrin of offline media planners. However, the real news is when all the Google pieces come together.’

Williams points out that Canadian online media planners are sometimes left to look with envy at the tools available to those working in the US, such as comScore’s Marketer tool (which allows US media planners to select sites for display ads based on which search keywords consumers used before visiting sites). Google AdPlanner mentions the ability to link between sites and related keyword searches. Whether that function will be enabled for media planners in Canada is unknown, says Williams, but there’s currently no competition here.

And it’s not just about online media.

‘If this was just about online, the offline folks could have stopped paying attention sentences ago, but that’s not the case,’ says Williams. ‘Today, comScore’s share price dropped 22.5%, which is probably an overreaction. However, comScore is forced to fight back against Google’s free model. Other competitors are doing fine; Omniture continues to grow, but it has to remain focused on premium services. ComScore will survive by doing the same. In markets like Canada, that may mean comScore releasing premium services that integrate offline and online research. In Canada, comScore’s panel is twice the size of PMB, and since its relationship with the panel is electronic, it could market research that essentially makes PMB redundant. It is highly speculative, but Google AdPlanner may be the impetus to single panel data in Canada.’

Williams has posted additional commentary at his blog, which can be found at