The day the ads disappeared: Google outage “cost advertisers thousands per hour”

Many Google users enjoyed ad-free browsing for several hours last Thursday... and advertisers lost crucial pre-Christmas traffic. Is the ad industry still too reliant on the tech giants?

Google Ad Manager went down for three hours last week, reportedly costing news publishers thousands of dollars an hour.

The world’s leading search engine updated users after the error was noticed and reported that they were investigating user-reported ‘issues with Google Ad Manager’.

"The issue with Google Ad Manager has been resolved and ad serving has now been restored for the affected users,” Google said in a tweet on Thursday evening. “We apologize for the inconvenience.”

One source told Reuters that the lost revenue for a major large news website was thousands of dollars an hour and it was coming during a key revenue period as advertisers promote holiday deals.

In addition, major US news websites including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times were being affected by the issue, according to the report.

During the outage, ads continued to appear on Google's own services such as YouTube. Google Ads platform generates a large chunk of Google’s revenue, generating a huge $54.48bn in the first quarter of this year.

To put that into perspective, they made a total of $69.09bn in the same quarter in total.

“Shifting from walled gardens to the open web”

Commenting on the outage, Michael Nevins, CMO, Equativ saw the news is further proof that monopolies are bad for everyone – both advertisers and publishers – and why the industry needs to move towards more independent players that can provide the transparency and control needed to flourish.

“Last week’s outage has demonstrated the way in which monopolies continue to operate to the detriment of all players in the adtech industry," Nevins said. "Not only did advertisers lose sales opportunities, but publishers missed out on critical Q4 revenue — at a time when neither can afford it.

"We’ve already seen publishers start to shift away from tech giants towards independent players, but this black out reinforces the reasons behind such a move; the risks publishers carry when they are over-dependent upon a single provider of their critical infrastructure and revenue.

“Our hope, following this, is that market share will start to be more evenly distributed among players, shifting from walled gardens to the open web, and driving equal opportunities for all.”