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Google Changes Name of Ad Product Amid Inventory Quality Scandal

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Google removed “in-stream” classification from the name of one of its video formats. The change comes at a time when buyers are questioning whether they can trust the inventory the video giant sells.

In-Stream Ads will now be called Skippable Ads, the company wrote in a blog post that also went to buyers in an email yesterday, according to an email seen by Adweek. The company said this change will not impact campaign or management workflow, but instead was made “to more accurately describe the ad format.”

A Google spokesperson said the change only applies to awareness and consideration campaigns in Display and Video 360 and that the change was made to simplify naming conventions between awareness formats, which all only feature in-stream placements but are not all called in-stream.

“In early June, we started offering Display & Video 360 advertisers 30 and 60 second on-skippable in-stream ads on YouTube and YouTube TV,” the spokesperson said. “Given that other YouTube ad formats serve in-stream, we changed the name of the skippable ad format from “in-stream ads” to “skippable ads” for clarity and consistency.”

The change comes after Google’s in-stream video placements have been called into question. A report from research firm Adalytics accused YouTube of misleading buyers, particularly selling outstream video placements, while specifying to buyers that their ads would only air in-stream. Google has denied the allegations in the Adalytics report. In-stream ads typically refer to ads that accompany a video, while outstream ads appear in a user’s feed or via a small, muted video player within the article. Outstream ads are unlikely to be related to the content the user is watching.

Within Adalytics’ sample of ads that aired on the Google Video Partner (GVP) network, approximately 80.7% were found to be delivering on sites which offered muted, auto-played, obscured or out-stream video placements. Adalytics also found that large swaths of advertisers’ campaigns could end up on GVP inventory, and not YouTube videos.

Against this backdrop, two media buyers expressed frustration with the name change update, arguing the report left them wanting reassurance from YouTube that their ads would never appear on out-stream formats. For the buyers Adweek spoke with, this name change implies there will be no such guarantee.

“I think it’s dishonest… Were you not accurately representing [skippable ad formats] before?” asked one media buyer who was not authorized to speak to the press. “The answer is no.”

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