I saw Google's new media and Web measurement tool, Google Ad Planner, yesterday in action. It's scary good. To date, people planning advertising and media buys have had very limited "real" data and measurement to make their choices. Everyone in the advertising world knows (but doesn't talk about) the fact that most numbers are either fabricated or best guess-timated by using a third party audience measurement company. These third-party companies usually run panels and surveys, collate the data, massage it with their own algorithm and provide data that some people love, and some hate.
It has always been a messy science and although Google hasn't solved it with Google Ad Planner, it does seem like the information I saw was very detailed. My guess is that it's being pulled by Web servers, ad servers, etc... and if anyone has the technological power to house and manipulate this type of data, it would be Google.
The jury is not out on the product yet (as far as I can see, it is still only available as a private beta by invite only), but it has already got some media executives excited (both good and bad).
"Some ad executives say they are concerned that Google could use the data it compiles about their campaigns to make a business pitch to a competitor. They imagine a scenario in which the biggest online advertiser in a category is running its campaign through Google's ad-serving systems. Not only would Google be helping that marketer deliver ads to particular websites; it would also be capturing data about which websites and types of ads work best. Advertising executives fear that Google could then resell that same intelligence to competitors. (Any data that marketers put into Google's ad systems will remain confidential, a Google spokesman says)."
Is the fear really in corporate espionage, or is the fear what we're really going to find out about which ads perform, and which ones don't? Is the fear really about Google having too many fingers in too many advertising pies, or is the fear that we're actually going to be able to see which websites have audiences and how engaged their audience really is with online advertising?
"Separately, Google this week is expected to roll out a new tool aimed at showing how Web surfers respond to online ads. It will compare groups of people who are exposed to an ad with others who haven't seen it, taking into account such factors as search activity and site visitation... Marketer are hungry for research that helps them compare the results of offline and online ads so that they can allocate their marketing budgets more intelligently. Google could be positioned to serve this one-stop-shopping role."
Will this be a case of reality bites... or reality bytes?