back to article Google accused of ripping off advertisers with video ads no one saw. Now, the expert view

Google is accused of misrepresenting the placement of YouTube video ads by playing them on low-quality third-party websites where they may never have been viewed. If so, that means Google has been taking millions if not billions of dollars from advertisers for video ads that perhaps no one actually watched. Funnily enough, …

  1. stiine Silver badge

    my solution is...

    Mute button and 6, 15, or 30 seconds of eyes closed relaxation. Google's resume-after-ad code is soo poor you can actually miss the first 3 seconds after the ad breaks and not miss any content.

    Any ads longer than 30 seconds in a 3.5 minute video get cancelled. videos with 2+ minute ads (and i've seen 45m ads) get cancelled as well

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: my solution is...

      Ads? What are these things you call "ads"?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: my solution is...

        "ads" just add money to Google.

      2. CommonBloke

        Re: my solution is...

        It's those funny things that people that don't rely on Invidious (several site instances, open source code) or Newpipe (android app, get it on f-droid) are forced to endure.

    2. Alumoi Silver badge

      Re: my solution is...

      Mine is uBlock and pihole.

    3. Sherrie Ludwig

      Re: my solution is...

      Mute button and 6, 15, or 30 seconds of eyes closed relaxation.

      I have a nice game of Solitaire fired up in another window. Same idea.

      1. PiltdownMan

        Re: my solution is...

        They give you a nice count down ro watch, some times. more interesting than any ads.

    4. DS999 Silver badge

      Re: my solution is...

      I don't see Youtube ads at all, so there is nothing to mute. Linux/Firefox/uBlock Origin & iOS/Safari/Firefox Focus.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: my solution is...

      There are some YouTube channels which I care for and do enable ads on in the (probably naive) hope that funds subsequently flow to the content creator.

      But what I notice is that Google's ad placing tech is truly rubbish. I don't know how they do it, but I have occasionally noticed that ads are relevant to me, but only because I've already gone and bought something from a competitor. So the ad being shown is too little too late, as I've already spent the money with someone else. I've never once seen an ad for something I'm contemplating buying.

      And the most pointless one of all is an ad for domestic broadband streamed on behalf the company that is already providing the broadband connection over which it is streamed. That seems nuts, the one thing Google can absolutely tell is who my broadband provider is, and I'd imagine that the broadband provider would deem it a waste of their ad budget having it shown to people who are already customers.

  2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    If I was asked to accept - and pay for - the delivery of an un-franked letter which I knew simply contained marketing, I would unhesitatingly refuse it.

    Similarly, were I contacted by my phone company and asked to accept a collect call that was some kind of marketing, I would refuse it. I might actually get somewhat forthright on the matter.

    So why does Google and other online advert pushers, expect me to spaff my data allowance and/or paid-for data just for me to download marketing?

    People (if web marketers qualify for that term) used to bleat that ad-blocking equated to theft. I suggest the opposite: web advertising is theft.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      web advertising is theft.

      Any advertising is theft. It is theft of your resources - power, bandwidth, processing and the like - but most of all it is theft of your *time*. And you only have a limited quantity of that. Not to mention that it is distracting, disturbing, ineffective...

      Youtube does at least offer an advertising free option. However, in my not so humble opinion, twelve bucks a month is perhaps ten or twelve times too expensive... if the BBC can produce its excellent content for that sort of price, I feel sure that Youtube as nothing more than a carrier and aggregator of material produced by other people at no cost to Youtube could be a damn site cheaper.

      Some of the Youtube creators produce content which I find amusing, informative, or instructive but like many internet sites/services far too many are simply playing for clicks; scraping other sites for material (with or without their knowledge) and repackaging it so that they can benefit from any Youtube revenue. Their raison d'etre is simply to generate revenue - not a bad ambition in itself, perhaps, but of painting stripes on the side of herring produced more revenue they'd be doing that instead.

      Consider the websites of, for example, major manufacturers: You don't see random adverts for Ford on Mercedes' website. You don't find sudden videos extolling the virtues of Motorola on the Texas Instruments site... certainly their sites are effectively completely advertising, but people arriving at them are looking for their products already.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: an advertising free option

        Yes, but the 12 bucks is not for you to not see ads, it is for Google to get the ad revenue it won't get by (pretending to) showing you ads.

        1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

          Re: an advertising free option

          I very much doubt Google is making anywhere near 12 bucks a month out of the qd revenue from any one user.

        2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

          Re: an advertising free option

          "Yes, but the 12 bucks is not for you to not see ads, it is for Google to get the ad revenue it won't get by (pretending to) showing you ads."

          I doubt that that's the calculation they made.

          They charge what they think they can get away with, given that today's youth are glued to their phones.

        3. Killfalcon Silver badge

          Re: an advertising free option

          From what various youtubers I watch have said, Premium user views are worth more per user than un-blocked adverts are - but there are more advert-funded views.

          That suggests that YouTube *also* makes more per user, given they're generally not that generous to the people making all the reasons we have to use the site.

          That said, the creators also say things like "a dollar month on Patreon is worth more than viewing every video they put out in a month", so consider that option instead if you're really keen on a particular channel.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      If somebody chooses to monetise their website by including a block that displays google ads then you may choose not to use that site for whatever you were using it for. Presumably you were getting something out of looking at the page, into which somebody else had put a reasonable amount of time and effort to make available.

      You get to choose whether you want to use that website or not.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Many content creators get next to nothing from Google. I have absolutely no qualms about blocking Google's incessant ads (always 100% irrelevant to me).

        1. icesenshi

          It used to be that some content creators would purposely choose not to monetise their channel (no ads). But then google decided that those channels would also get ads, with the content creators getting 0.

      2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

        On that basis, one ought to read any and all magazine flyer inserts and not leave them on the newsagents shelf

        1. MJI Silver badge

          But I do read

          The ads in magazines I buy.

          Usually properly targeted.

          Not anad for something bought recently or a random POC, or some gambling rubbish.

          The ads are totally relevant to the subject, somone trying to sell a new model of item X where X is something people want, could be to varous people a camera, a game, a model kit, an aftermarket car part.

          Internet adverts are there to block

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: But I do read

            I'm getting a bit sick of adverts (in apps) for Temu, Tony, Tama... I think it's some sort of online shop. Whoopee. Haven't they noticed the economy is a mess? Zero interest.

            Also, fuck Tefal. My weather app used to play a colourful advert for their cake maker, which it would insist on playing in some quad ultra HD resolution that took longer to download than it took to play, all completely unskippable. And while the failings of the advertising infrastructure aren't Tefal's responsibility, somebody had to sign off on this, as well as the "show this thing to the user over and over and over". So, one annoying advert for a cake maker, okay. A dozen that actively interfere with getting anything done? Fuck you Tefal.

    3. localzuk Silver badge

      Its quite simple really. People want free sites like Youtube. So, those sites need paying for somehow. The current answer is data gathering and advertising.

      It isn't theft, either, as you are using their site, subject to the terms and conditions of that site.

      They've gotta make money somehow. Take this very site. I'm going to guess that advertising revenue is a considerable part of the income that keeps the site running.

    4. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      "So why does Google and other online advert pushers, expect me to spaff my data allowance and/or paid-for data just for me to download marketing?"

      Not to mention my remaining battery power, battery lifetime (charging cycles), CPU usage (affecting other running processes) and device lifetime (as it runs hot all the time)?

    5. bazza Silver badge

      >People (if web marketers qualify for that term) used to bleat that ad-blocking equated to theft. I suggest the opposite: web advertising is theft.

      Less theft, more blackmail.

      Ultimately, the people who pay for advertising is the consumer, in that the sale price of goods has to fund all the costs and profits of the suppliers. Those costs include their advertising budget. The economy reaches an equilibrium wrt advertising; there are only so many magazines, bill boards, TV channels, etc; there is a limit to how many ads can be in circulation in the economy, and therefore a limit to the amount of money that can be spent on advertising.

      The problem with web advertising and the way Google in particular have done it is that it has expanded vastly the number of places where advertising can be placed, and Google have not been afraid to use every new service they create (first search, then maps, then youtube, etc) as a marketing lever for their ad revenue; "either place an ad on our new service, or your competitor will instead" has been their basic tactic. Google's dominance of a few key services has allowed them to do that on a vast, global scale.

      So for the consumer, their suppliers are effectively being blackmailed by Google into spending more and more money, as more and more ad placement space is created and controlled by Google.

      It's a bit out of date, but some years ago the state of the ad market in the UK was that Internet advertising amounted to about £7billion per year revenue. It's probably more than that now. That is paid for entirely by consumers via the price of goods. There's about 70million people in the UK, so the web ad industry was taking about £100 from every man, women and child. Work it out for wage earners, and it's several hundred pounds per wage earner per year, regardless of whether or not you used any Google or Microsoft or any other on-line services at all.

      So, it's getting to be quite expensive. It's quite a big chunk of a single month's mortgage payment, for example.

      Paying for things like YouTube premium is lunacy, because you're not going to get to buy goods for less money as a result of that. You might not be seeing ads, but everyone else still is and you pay for that in the price of goods regardless of what subscription you have with Google.

      1. jake Silver badge

        "Google have not been afraid to use every new service they create"

        Not "create", rather "use". Google steals, borrows or buys stuff and reuses it, sometimes after a little modification; they have never created anything.

        Especially not the search, maps and youtube that you cite.

        Thumbs up, and have a beer for the rest of the post.

        Yes, I shun all things alphagoo. Have been for a over a decade and a half.

        1. bazza Silver badge


          For "create" would you accept "sticks their name on it and roles it out on a world-domnation scale"?

          It is interesting looking at the macro cost of ad funded services like Google's. It's even more interesting, when the revenue is being tapped out of a country with arrangements such that no tax is paid there on it. It's a large flow of money out of an economy, with no benefit to the nation in terms of taxation.

          The net result of an ever-expanding Google (or any other ad-funded tech co) is that an increasing fraction of the national economy is lost, and it starts having a serious impact on metrics like Gross National Income (aka Gross National Product) (see Wikipedia), which measures money lost from a national economy. GDP can make such things look like healthy economic activity, but if large lumps of that are actually going abroad and not coming back, it's bad news...

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    The would-be advertisers should look on the bright side. They didn't piss off potential customers by shoving unwanted ads in their faces.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      I was always happy looking at Ad's in newspapers and magazines but these days I block all adverts and when presented with a 3+ second crap advert before any video starts, I quit immediately. But now it seems that the advertiser is paying for adverts that I delete.

      Originally I had the choice to see an advert or move on if it wasn't interesting although most used to be worth looking at ... but these days adverts are just "applied" to everyone so Advertisers don't have to create adverts that "attract" people, Adverts are just applied to people ... unfortunately advertising quality is irrelevant these days.

  4. Claverhouse Silver badge

    Storm In A Teacup

    I have watched many Youtubes in my life --- the interesting content due to the creators, not Google; however if YouTube was taken away tomorrow my life would not not be significantly worse. As with many things from over there they tend to vastly overestimate their own importance.

    Anyway every time I see a request to turn off my adblocker it is vain, since I don't have one, just a hosts file and if the Podunk Afternoon Free Press is under the impression I am going to go in as root and edit it ( and then do the same thing backwards ) just for some creepy little news title [ which in any case is probably owned by some insanely greedy conglomerating monopolizer ) they have another think coming. And I care no more for Google that I do them.

    As for the main burthen of the article, what a sad world this is becoming when a quarrel betwixt different faces of mere advertising has financial consequences.

  5. Claverhouse Silver badge

    The double 'Not' is unintentional, and the edit button is missing despite it only being 2 minutes...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does Google actually believe that if forced to watch an ad I'm not interested in, I will miraculously think "oh my goodness, how could I have not wanted this product, how silly of me!". ?

    1. thames

      The dispute appears to be that someone is claiming that significant numbers of ad slots that were sold to advertisers as "in stream ads" (ads shown as part of a Youtube video) are actually being shown as "out stream ads" (ads shown as small pop-ups with the sound muted on text content sites). The former is considered to be more desirable means of placing ads than the latter.

      I suspect that what may be happening is that Google are selling ad placement packages which include a mixture of both (a quick reading of related material suggests that this is what ad consultants were recommending their clients to buy). I suspect that Google's ad salesmen were promising their customers butterflies and rainbows of what is "possible" but the fine print on the contract was vague and waffley on what would actually be delivered. Customers were therefore found themselves underwhelmed with the difference between what was promised by the marketers and what was actually delivered.

      If this is so, then it looks like the ad men at the customers were getting a taste of their own medicine and I don't have much sympathy for them.

      Personally I think that in stream ads (pop-up video ads that somehow get around standard browser auto-play blocking) are horrific and only bottom feeder low quality sites have them. Admen have been buying out stream ads because if provides more potential sites on which video ads can be shown, and they think that video ads are "better" than normal image/text ads. However, it sounds like out stream ads are a flop in terms of effectiveness and advertising directors who bought them are losing their bonuses and are looking for someone to blame.

    2. mdubash

      Or does Google think that despite not wanting to watch ads inserted at random points into videos I'm enjoying that I will be any more willing to rush out and buy the product/service? I'm not alone in my firm policy of not knowingly buying anything I've seen advertised: in doing so I'd not only have paid both with my time/data/electricity, I'd be paying more overall through higher prices incurred by paying for the company's advertising budget.

      I don't think so.

    3. Roland6 Silver badge

      They probably do, as do others looking through the ad revenue distorted lens….

      It is interesting to note the complaints about the new ITVX app/service is the level of adverting that can’t be skipped or turned off and requires user action to play - so no making a cuppa whilst the ads play to an empty room.

      Likewise Amazon Prime, all was “okay” until Amazon started doing “free with ads”, these break my setup - for these features they don’t support my normal setup: iPad hdmi connected to my TV, funnily (both Prime and ITVX) support streaming without complaint of such ad supported features via my Windows laptop similarly connected to my TV…

      1. MJI Silver badge

        To some people

        ITVX does not exist.

        Something to do with Sony not liking ITV doing too many ads.

  7. that one in the corner Silver badge

    Facebook cutting off news

    This has me baffled: what difference would that make?

    I joined FB when lockdowns came in (Concellation and family messaging kept me sane - ish), so that is - years ago now. Yikes.

    Just where is FB supposed to be providing news, other than what is going on on their own site or paid "announcements"? Seriously, I asked the family and none of us have been shown any actual real-world news by FB.

    And yet we hear claims like "people aren't reading the news sites, they get all their news from FB" - do they mean "they are only paying attention to echo chambers of groups & individuals on FB and calling that news"? Or is there simply something obvious that I and all the other Corners have missed about we are "supposed" to use FaceBook?

    1. Dinanziame Silver badge

      Re: Facebook cutting off news

      Presumably Facebook doesn't think it makes a difference either, which is why they won't be doing it anymore

    2. andrewj

      Re: Facebook cutting off news

      I have no idea how I achieved it, or perhaps it's just uBlock; but I never see news on Facebook anyway. All I get is the feed with posts from friends, interspersed with ads that I ignore.

  8. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    It Pays to Advertise?

    There's an interesting Freakonomics podcast on web advertising. Some quotes..

    "The company (eBay) believed that roughly 5 percent of sales were driven by paid-search advertising, meaning that they believed that if we would pull the plug on advertising, sales would drop by 5 percent. What we found was that sales dropped by about half a percent. So, that’s an order of magnitude less. And it was not statistically different from zero."

    ... and ...

    "When you did the return on investment for every dollar that eBay spends — eBay believed that for every dollar they’re spending, they’re getting roughly a dollar-and-a-half back, meaning 50 cents of net profits. And what we showed is that on average, they’re losing more than 60 cents on every dollar."

    The above need a bit of context, so you need to listen to the podcast for the full story but....

    "So, how did these results go over?"

    "Well, the president of eBay, who later became the C.E.O., he cut the paid-search marketing budget immediately by $100 million a year. "

    1. dogcatcher

      Re: It Pays to Advertise?

      I now actively try not to buy goods that are advertised and certainly not from the advertisers.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: It Pays to Advertise?

        To paraphrase the old quote, updating it for the Internet advertising age: "99.9% of the money we spend on advertising is wasted; the problem is, we don't know which 99.9%."

        1. ChrisLaarman

          Re: It Pays to Advertise?

          Agreed, so far. - However, I have a profile somewhere with Google, matching my status as well as possible. Yet the overwhelming majority of ads shown to me on YouTube regard products (including services) that I just won't buy. (Pun accepted.) Like (for the sake of argument) ads for pet foods when I don't and won't have pets. In fact, few ads match my interests or needs.

          I'm open to ads! If a vendor has an offer that I might be interested in, just show it. Striking a deal would make us both happy. But that's quite different from shouting around about your pet food... (I may have a bridge for sale for vendors believing that I'll buy their "pet food".) ;-)

          I don't intend to go Premium on YouTube. The content I view is quite unlikely to be payed for by myself by buying the products advertised to me. (From the last 12 months, I can remember just one ad that matched my interests (an upgrade to software I have) and a handful of shops where I buy anyway (but not the products advertised).

          I may get carried away, but the placement of ads could also be better. For the sake of argument: how about marketing cars in wildlife documentaries?

          1. JWLong

            Re: It Pays to Advertise?

            Quote "I may get carried away, but the placement of ads could also be better. For the sake of argument: how about marketing cars in wildlife documentaries?"

            Better yet, ads for guns! /s

            Ad slingers want sympathy? It's in the dictionary someplace between "Shit" and "Syphilis". This whole thing is nothing but a cost to bear buy the customer and at a cost of about 30% of value, so we already pay for this shit on the front end.

      2. peachy001

        Re: It Pays to Advertise?

        100% the same. I have never yet seen an advert and bought the product.

        My kids have, almost, years ago. There was an autoloading water balloon thing. They asked us to buy one, and the Mrs went to B&M and got them some.

        My only issue is the piss poor nature of the ads, and indeed, how they relate to me. Dog food, nope, don't need it. Over 65 retirement home, nope don't need it. Some fad lager, nope.

        I actually cannot remember an ad relevant to me. Not can I recall an ad that was even consistent with the video. I've watched many EV car channels, but have not seen an EV car ad.

        Also, some of the voices and speachbpatterns are beyond irritating. So, I'd avoid their stuff anyway.

        1. David Hicklin Bronze badge

          Re: It Pays to Advertise?

          I read an article (long time ago now) that is mostly not about you buying product X now but more about brand awareness so that when you do want product X you will think about brand Y first.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @David Hicklin - Re: It Pays to Advertise?

            This is another big lie that digital advertising companies are serving to their customers. At a certain point, those companies figured out that increased spending in digital advertising does not translate into increased sales so they turned to their advertisers asking them for an explanation. This is how they came up with this nonsense about building brand awareness. It's total rubbish because if someone is interested in that product from brand X, they will rush out to buy it which obviously, doesn't happen. As for the future, there's no guarantee they will ever remember the brand but the advertiser doesn't mention it.

            In conclusion, digital advertising is a fraud.

            1. heyrick Silver badge

              Re: @David Hicklin - It Pays to Advertise?

              Brand awareness is quite simple. Build a reliable product so when I have an idea of something I'd be interested in and search online, I don't get a dozen links about notoriously common faults in that product.

              Otherwise, avoid the cheap brands like the plague. They're cheap for a reason. Avoid the expensive brands. Pick one in the middle that is considered reliable. As for the brand? Sorry, but word of mouth counts for more than the cleverly constructed lies that pass as advertising.

              Actually I tend to view online advertising (especially forced over the top like you get these days) as an admission that the brand in question is mediocre and the product unable to stand for itself, so everybody has to be force fed this drivel to compensate for those inadequacies.

          2. parlei Bronze badge

            Re: It Pays to Advertise?

            I have heard this as well, and it makes sense. You are looking at the shelf of a new-to-you product, say muesli, and it is very tempting prioritize the brands you have at least heard of. Same when grocery shopping in a foreign country: you will recognize almost none of the brands, so it all looks a bit iffy and "risky".

          3. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid

            Re: It Pays to Advertise?

            "I read an article (long time ago now) that is mostly not about you buying product X now but more about brand awareness so that when you do want product X you will think about brand Y first."

            I'm sure that's still the case. Why else would car companies show an ad in the UK with the disclaimer "not UK spec"?

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: It Pays to Advertise?

          > I have never yet seen an advert and bought the product.

          I have researched the product, selected a supplier etc. and left my basket without checking out. Then clicked on the ad a day later that offers me a 10% discount on the price I was originally quoted…

        3. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid

          Re: It Pays to Advertise?

          Totally agree. All advertising seems to say to me "see how terrible our adverts are, why would you ever want to buy anything from us? "

          Sometimes it's just very poor quality ads, other times it's the outlandish claims they make, but the result is the same.

    2. CowHorseFrog

      Re: It Pays to Advertise?

      Advertising in all forms is a scam.

      Look at YT, it feels like half of all creators are sposored by some VPN. How can that possibly pay or work ? How many 100s of VPN ads a month can there possibly be so that its profitable for anyone ?

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: It Pays to Advertise?

        Some daytime TV channels wouldn't exist without Octasmart mattresses and no-fuss funeral plans.

      2. RichardBarrell

        Re: It Pays to Advertise?

        Those VPN services are a really high-margin service (ARPU >> COGS), so they can afford to spend exorbitant amounts on avertising (CAC can go into the stratosphere without them really noticing).

      3. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: It Pays to Advertise?

        I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of those commercial VPNs are quite profitable. They get a smallish monthly subscription for running a bunch of servers, and users may buy that access without really planning to use it, either because they think it will help with security (it can but it will depend on how it is used) or will allow them to view region-limited content (maybe, but no guarantees). How many people forget they don't use it and continue to pay? I don't buy them because I have my own, but it is probably not that expensive to run if they can sign up enough intermittent users.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey You!


    I won’t be watching your crappy ads one way or another.


  10. EricB123 Bronze badge

    TLA Time!

    Google is so dishonest, they almost remind me of several 3 letter Government agencies.

  11. EricB123 Bronze badge

    One Step Forward, Two Steps Back...

    Bring back Neilsen and Arbitron please.

  12. Jonathon Green

    Could this be…

    …one of those rare and delicious cases where you can cheer on both parties in a contractual spat, and a pyrrhic victory where the lawyers walk away with all the money looks like a win for humanity.

  13. CowHorseFrog

    For thousands of years the biggest lie was religion, today its internet advertising of all kinds.

    Im not saying the ads are a scam, because well we all know many are. Im saying that the Google advertising platform itself is a scam. There is no way anyone is getting value from buying all the ads that Google tries to show each and every person. Lets pretend the average person sees 1 - 2 hours a day of internet, thats over a 100 ads a day, of 1000 a week. Its not financially possible for anyone to buy more than 5 items, which means 995 of all ads shown and sold by Google itself are a lie.

    1. Zolko Silver badge

      well, marketing people – those who choose these sort of ads – aren't the sharpest knifes in town. What you have here is that marketing people from Google convince marketing people from other companies in champagne-drinking meetings to spend astronomical sums of money to annoy their customers so they can continue spending their time in champagne-drinking meetings.

      All that with your money ultimately. Where did the Paris Hilton icon go ?

    2. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

      That's why you only get 5 different ads, but shown to you 1000 times. By the second time, I'm irritated by it, by the 1000th time, I've vowed never to by the service/product and boycott any business based in the same country...

      I exaggerate only mildly.

  14. Is there anybody out there?

    The Emperor's New Clothes

    I don't know anyone who doesn't dislike ads and few would admit to being more than peripherally influenced by them. So why does the ad industry exist at all? What would be different without this worldwide phenomenon? You could still get the information by going to the sellers site - it just wouldn't be in your face. The Golgafrincham's had the right idea I think.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: The Emperor's New Clothes

      Some advertising makes sense, and they probably started with that. If you're a company that nobody knows about, advertising can help people learn that you exist, and that can be seen to have value in increased demand. Similarly, new types of products or recent changes that might interest customers won't do much unless customers see those, and advertising can give them that information. I may not always appreciate people telling me those things, but advertising is sold to those who commission the ads, not those who see them, and those ones actually work. I will admit to being occasionally influenced by ads, although I do my best to avoid many so I'm influenced by a relatively small number. On occasion, I've taken an advertiser's offer of a free trial and decided it was a product worth paying for, something I might not have done if I didn't hear about them. I'll note that the two I can think of were both ads placed in content with a subject related to the products, not targeted to me.

      However, sometime in the past, advertisers managed to convince a lot of people that they need to advertise incessantly even when there is nothing new and nobody who sees the ads will learn anything that would make them more likely to buy, basically on the theory that consumers are idiots, so just hearing the name over and over again will make them buy things. That may have worked at one point, but I'm guessing they do their best not to measure any benefits so as to make their pitches vague enough that they can always ask for and get large budget increases. As long as they can say "If you stop and your competitors don't, you will lose out to them", they can make the executives who decide their budget fearful. If they collected data, they run the risk of discovering that doesn't really happen.

  15. Graham Cobb Silver badge

    Prove how valuable it is

    If Google want to convince advertisers how important advertising is to them why don't they prove it? They could make a global fanfare of creating a "we love Internet cats week", with every (without exception) Google-supplied ad replaced with a cute cat pic or video for the week, worldwide. The whole world would probably join in the fun. They could tie it in with broadcasters, charities, etc around the world and make it a global topic of conversation.

    Meanwhile, advertisers could monitor sales and leads and see how much they dropped, proving how important advertising is to them and justifying all the money spent on advertising.

    1. ricegf

      Re: Prove how valuable it is

      We already know that ads influence people. Take Bud Light, for example...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Prove how valuable it is

        Or words written on the sides of buses...

  16. MacGuffin

    Good Old Days

    At least when I was getting sh*t-tons of junk snail mail, I could send the junk mail from one advertiser to another using their thoughtfully provided pre-paid mailing envelopes!

    I thought it was quite nice of me to share the useless marketing material at their expense!

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Good Old Days

      The more obnoxious got presents from the rear ends of pets.

  17. PRR Bronze badge

    Disregard the deaf? Only hearing-able persons count? Eh, what?

    > research report mentions the words 'volume', 'muted', 'audible', and 'sound' 116 times.

    I don't hear well. In my mis-spent youth I used ears too much. My partner is usually listening to something else. My dog gets anxious if she hears "strange voices".

    I mostly keep my PC speakers OFF. Since sound bits are still flowing from browser to Line Out, YouTube (and researchers) can't know I am MUTED.

    But the whole experience is awkward. Why can't I set a setting "Always enable CC" ('closed captioning')?? Why can't YT remember I like English, not give me a 200 line list of languages I never heard{sic} of? No, the Setting does not always work; only improves the odds of getting text in arbitrary language. And often covering-up the bits of interest!

    Not to mention (but I will) the hilarious goofs in auto-transcription. "Lineman" (wire guy) comes out "Lyman". "Crews" is "cruise". Standalone that may be reasonable. But any sense of context makes 'crews' more likely than 'cruise'. If YouTube is making millions/billions from ads (and videos), shouldn't they try to make them "audible" for us deaf (whether congenital, acquired, or by choice)?

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: Disregard the deaf? Only hearing-able persons count? Eh, what?

      Shhh don't point it out or they'll do something like make YT refuse to work unless you have verifiable sound enabled and we won't be able to use this loophole any more.

      As someone born partially deaf myself I'm very happy for the ad industry to ignore us.

  18. Camilla Smythe

    Bleaty Bleaty Bleaty

    I already have 14 pairs of socks so both you and google can fuck the fuck off.

  19. martinusher Silver badge

    This explains everything

    Trying to look at anything on my phone -- or tablet -- is next to impossible due to the limited screen space being monopolized by adverts which invariably these days are video clips. These clips use up bandwidth and stop the page from loading so when I come across a site that's really infested with these I just click away and look elsewhere.

    Google is merely the enabler but the fault is with the website creators who expect me to look at pages crawling with bandwidth hogging and largely irrelevant material. The whole Internet ecosystem is irretrievably broken. Google might be a big cog in the machine but its by no means the entire cog.

  20. nijam Silver badge

    > ...commercials ... weren't actually seen or not properly shown – such as being muted, positioned off to the side of the page, scaled down to some small size, etc.


  21. ComicalEngineer

    Every so often Farcebook puts "sponsored content" (adverts) into my timeline. Every 3rd post will then be an advert which adblock+ can't recognise and block. On these days I simply stop looking at FB until they stop spamming me. Mostly I use FB for messenger and to catch up with some old friends so no real penalty. I studiously don't use any company that advertises on FB if I can help it.

    1. iron Silver badge

      Adblock+ has been a poor choice for some time now, uBlock Origin would probably block those ads.

      I say probably because I've never used Facebook so I don't know for sure but I don't see adverts anywhere using uBlock Origin.

  22. ecofeco Silver badge

    Advertising makes ponzi look honest

    I found out decades ago just how crooked advertising is. Metrics are half truth fairy tales, rate are over-priced and unless you carpet bomb your audience over and over (very expensive), virtually useless.

    Sourced: worked in advertising.

  23. Greybearded old scrote


    Back before I discovered the ad block for youtube extension I found it entertaining how often they showed me ads for business jets. Either I've been very successful in hiding who I am from The Great Stalker or else they were deliberately ripping off Gulfstream.

    Now there is going to be a Red Queen's Race, I hope the blockers do well at it.

  24. Elongated Muskrat Silver badge

    Ads in mobile games

    The article mentions ads in mobile games. If my experience of these is anything to go by, it'll be the same set of four or five ads that get muted and skipped as soon as possible and make me vow to never, ever, ever, go anywhere near the cruddy app the ad is promoting. By not showing those ads, they'd probably improve the popularity of the thing they're advertising...

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: Ads in mobile games

      They usually make me uninstall the game that's actually showing those terrible ads too.

  25. John Robson Silver badge

    Do ads run?

    Most of the time I find that ads stall, I can then "block" that ad and the video resumes happily...

  26. iron Silver badge

    > "Of course not all digital advertising is bad. Digital ads shown to humans are good and work as advertising.

    Sorry Dr Fou but in my experience most ads are terrible, digital or otherwise, and almost no advertising works for anything other than brand awareness. Mostly to make me aware of brands I DON'T want to buy.

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