According to a new study, Google may have misled dozens of business and government advertisers about the viewership of ads running on third-party websites and apps.

Advertising research organization Adalytics reported many advertisers that pay for TrueView skippable in-stream video ads on websites outside of YouTube could have been misled.

“TrueView asks users if they want to skip the video ad after 5 seconds with a visual prompt. Google’s policies state that TrueView ads must be skippable, audible, and playing of the video (and ad) cannot be solely initiated by passive user scrolling,” stated Adalytics.

However, according to this research report, significant amounts of TrueView skippable in-stream ads purchased by various brands and media agencies appear to have been served on hundreds of thousands of websites and apps where the consumer experience did not meet Google’s stated quality standards for years.

“For example, many TrueView in-stream ads were served muted and auto-playing as out-stream video or as obscured video players on independent sites. Often, there was little to no organic video media content between ads, the video units simply played ads only,” said Adalytics.

A media buyer told Adalytics: “Nobody goes to walled gardens like YouTube to run on audience networks which all have the same crappy inventory. This is a method for YouTube and Google to extract more budget and manufacture scale in a way that is palatable to the advertiser because they don’t fully understand it.”

The organization added, “Google was observed delivering thousands of TrueView ads to declared bots running out of Google Cloud data center servers.”


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