Google Australia boss defends programmatic amid brand safety concerns

Arvind Hickman
By Arvind Hickman | 30 March 2017
Google Australia managing director Jason Pellegrino.

Google Australia managing director Jason Pellegrino has accepted brand safety needs to improve but has launched a staunch defence of programmatically-traded digital advertising.

The Google boss, who has been named a keynote speak at this year's Media and Marketing Summit, spoke exclusively to AdNews prior to the YouTube boycott arriving on these shores.

While Pellegrino admits that brand safety needs to get better, and Google is taking steps to tighten controls, he believes the brand safety risk has been exaggerated and any debate should also consider programmatic's benefits. On the exaggeration part, Pellegrino's point is backed up by the latest Integral Ad Science survey, which shows the brand safety risk halved in this country in the second half of 2016.

“You’ve got to sit back and ask, ‘if there is such a large problem and its endemic to almost be at critical levels – why is this marketplace evolving?,” he said from Google's Sydney headquarters.

“The reason this marketplace is evolving is because advertisers, agencies and publishers come to the realisation there’s absolutely a place for programmatic within the business.

“Firstly, it drives massive efficiencies in the buying and selling side of the industry. In a highly competitive market where we are all moving at a fast pace to keep up with user needs and trends, efficiency is incredibly important.

“Secondly, it better reflects the changing nature of the consumer. Without programmatic and the data and analytical capabilities that sit behind it, it is clearly impossible to understand that users are consuming content across multiple devices and your engagement with that consumer as a brand across this cross-device platform.”

Pellegrino says that in a spot buying world, brands lose the ability to properly understand their customers’ journey and cannot track engagement with the brand. Programmatic, he added, is “the engine that allows that”.

“The downside of that, as it relates to brand safety, stems from the fact that consumers are browsing and engaging with such a wide variety of content," he says.

"In the pre-internet era, you were really restrained to a set number of printed publications, magazines and TV stations. That constraint has disappeared and the internet allows engagement with all forms of content.”

This seemingly infinite amount of choice means that brands occasionally have ads served on sites or against videos they would not want to be associated with. On YouTube alone, hundreds of hours of new video content is uploaded daily while there are more than two million ad-supported sites across big networtks and exchanges.

Pellegrino believes the way to address this issue, and he says is provided for on Google's DoubleClick, is complete transparency of websites and videos where ads are placed as well as filters that allow brands to exclude specific sites or videos.

“What you are getting there is the best of both worlds. The ability to actually broaden your reach across all of the engagement points consumers are touching digitally, as well as the ability to include brand safety filters to make sure that from a brand perception perspective you are not appearing against content that your brand doesn’t want to appear against.”

The full interview, which profiles Pellegrino, Google's future plans and touches upon hot industry topics, will feature in the April issue of AdNews.

Come and see Jason Pellegrino live in conversation at this year's AdNews Media and Marketing Summit.

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