Do Google and Mad Men have something in common?

Don Draper

No, it’s not the smoking, the boozing or even the womanizing… Google is just introducing  new metrics  to measure online advertising.

In a nutshell,  “active view”  will tell us if an ad has been watched or not and “active GRP” will measure how many times the right message is hitting the right audience.

So what’s the big deal? Well, this rather dry and technical announcement is big news in the microcosm of online advertising. Just check for “Google new metrics” on Twitter…

A lot of professionals think it is a move in the right direction, others have more questions to ask before they decide if this is good or bad (the school of testing of which I am an evergreen student). A third group, more cynical, think that Google is gunning for TV ad money.

Obviously,  the old ” impression and click” model is not enough to sustain Google growth.

Wall street analysts and big ad agencies will probably embrace the news.  Next thing you know, some large TV ad budgets will be allocated to online advertising and the giant of Mountain View will continue its march towards more revenue and a bigger valuation.

But there is a strange twist to this story: when Google introduced Adwords in 2002, it was earth-shattering  for the advertising industry. Many Madison Avenue agencies scrambled to adapt, those who did not saw their clients leave  to go to smaller interactive shops.

Google turned the world of traditional advertising upside down ; clients could now track the impact of their campaign with a precision that would have made a Swiss watchmaker proud. The old adage about not knowing which part of your budget was responsible for the sales was thrown to the dogs.

10 years later, Google seems to recant on the revolution it ignited. The geeks that changed the world have a new model: Madison Avenue!  They want to sit in Don Draper office, smoke his Lucky Strike, drink his Johnny Walker and win big accounts by being suave and macho.

Is Mad Men really inspiring Google? Is the highly trackable success of an ad campaign a thing of the past? Do we now need to measure ad campaign like the 60’s to break today’s glass ceiling?

If these Madison Avenue metrics give us an extra edge in planning and managing online campaigns they  will be a welcome contribution to the revolution.

If they are blurring our vision by  introducing fuzzy reporting and make us spend more money, I will be mourning the end of an era.

Frederick Buhr


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