Publishers struggle to forecast correctly after Google ad-server snafus

Publishers have struggled to get visibility on who is buying their inventory for the last two weeks, due to what many claim to be an unusually long Google Ad Manager outage.

Google Ad Manager, which recently rebranded from DoubleClick for Publishers and DoubleClick Ad Exchange, has been down for several weeks, according to multiple publisher sources, with some reporting that they haven’t been able to use it as far back as Aug. 29.

A Google spokesperson confirmed there have been issues with Google Ad Manager, though added that the issue had been global for only three days and that it has been working hard to rectify them. AdX reporting was restored last Friday, and it is still working on bringing back full capabilities. “We recently detected an issue that briefly impacted serving and reporting on Google Ad Manager. We resolved the issue and are working to restore full reporting functionality,” said a Google spokesperson.

Systems glitches are nothing new, and especially when a system is going through transition, as with Ad Manager. But the length of the outage, plus the difficulty in getting a complete answer from Google as to why things had gone down, has made for a nail-biting few weeks for some publishers, according to sources.

“Because everything flows through that [DfP,] it has been a pain for forecasting, but also for seeing how buyers are spending. Not knowing how deals are running or being able to pull the results of the campaigns has been a headache,” said a publishing executive at a national newspaper.

Knowing which advertisers have been buying their inventory in one quarter is useful information for developing lead opportunities for the following quarter — a tactic the glitch has also hampered, according to sources. “It’s a massive issue. It means that we’re flying even more blind than normal,” said a publishing executive at a different national newspaper.

Campaigns have continued to run, so direct revenue hasn’t been affected. The headache for publishers has been more around the lack of visibility, and transparency in communicating the problems from Google.

“There was no feedback from Google about the issue, until I spoke to them directly on it. It’s now working, but I have had no feedback as to why the issue occurred and how it has been rectified. Poor but not unexpected,” said another publishing executive.

There have also been buy-side snags. Some agencies have said that campaigns have been duplicated in some cases, since the issues with Google Ad Manager, and also campaigns have incorporated unchosen inventory in one or two cases.

“We have experienced one deal where sites which were not added appeared with spend against them. As usual we are waiting for an answer as to why this has occurred,” said an agency executive.

Like publishers, agencies want better communication. “The frustration comes from trying to get a straight answer from Google as to why this has taken place. We always know they will rectify the issues but need transparency as to why the mistakes happen,” added the same executive. Other agencies have said there have been more glitches than usual since the switch to Display and Video 360, which consolidates Google’s display advertising products.

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