Advertisers’ Trust in Google Goes Dark: What’s Next?

By James Avery, Founder and CEO at Kevel

Google’s recent antitrust lawsuit is going to trial, leading advertising industry professionals to imagine a landscape beyond today’s monopoly. As trust dwindles between ad market players and the tech giant, the market could regulate to stand on more equal footing – but how exactly will this take shape for both advertising’s supply and demand sides?

Let’s unpack the market implications of Google’s advertising issues, identifying players who will benefit from industry decentralization, and those who will need to pivot their strategy in order to optimize their outputs.

Road Maps for a Monopoly Collapse

Google’s advertising technology monopoly forces publishers to sell growing shares of ad space to the monopolist at depressed prices. Given the landscape, advertising market players are innately wary of Google abusing its power. So, when advertising inventory ran in sub-quality placements, distrust skyrocketed.

Historically, Google is known to misrepresent where advertising media is actually spent. The misrepresentation sparked ad fraud issues and with them, a slew of antitrust cases that triggered an international debate. The current U.S. antitrust case is underway and marks a tipping point for industry decentralization.

Therefore, market players need to realize exactly who will reap the benefits of a fairer market and who needs to re-strategize and fill the gaps in terms of areas of opportunity.

In a Decentralized Market, Buyers Derive Advantage

As ‘Gannett vs. Google’ unfolds, the state of the tech giant’s advertising industry dominance is challenged by legal proceedings, and benefits to certain market players loom large. With Google’s advertising market 2022 revenue amounting to $224.47 billion, the shifting landscape leaves room for others in the space to capitalize.

Buyers including The Trade Desk and other demand-side platforms (DSPs) will innately benefit from advertising industry decentralization. The outcome of the current antitrust case could very well lead to AdSense (Google’s ad network) losing ad spend. As a ripple effect, the barrier to advertising demand entry would be reduced; allowing other DSPs to step up to the plate and compete on a more even playing field.

Areas of Opportunity for Publishing, Fintech, and Retail

As trust in Google diminishes, advertisers will be looking for guaranteed brand-safe, compliant environments. Enter– prime areas of opportunity for publishers. Publishers’ previous advertising outsourcing decisions make them vulnerable in today’s market. Most publishers are down to a handful of advertising operations team members and as a result, they rely on header bidding and checks from supply-side platforms (SSPs). Publishers need to invest in both their own advertising platforms and unique advertising products to take advantage of opportunities that meet growing market demand, and ensure longevity.

If Google is less powerful, advertisers will bring their dollars elsewhere; likely to fintech and retail media platforms, whose industries are slated for exponential growth. That is why companies within these industries should take note and fill the gaps where publishers missed the mark. Retail media, fintech, and other publishers alike need to prepare for this uptick in advertiser spend by building out their own infrastructure now.

Brands that stall for demand to increase may miss their shot to capitalize. Those who are paying attention to this timely area of opportunity know it won’t be long before someone else fills the market gap Google could leave. For instance, Google’s antitrust buzz might distract the industry from Amazon’s recent moves of allegedly strategizing a larger stake in the advertising supply chain. Market players need to keep their heads on a swivel, pivot their investments accordingly, and keep another tech giant’s rise in control from flying under the radar. If brands wait too long, Amazon will swoop in and take the ad spend.

While advertising’s decentralization is realized, market players need to strategize toward engaging in brand-safe and compliant environments. To actualize a fair market, advertisers must buy advertising slots directly from publishers, fintech and retail media, but first SSPs will have to invest in themselves. A fair and competitive advertising landscape has great potential to thrive if SSPs can build in-house, trustworthy platforms on capital.

The DOJ’s legal action against Google could take years. But while they are in trial, those who take this as a call to action and start planning ahead of the court’s decree will find long-term success.