Google has updated DoubleClick for Publishers to make it easier to sell native ads that look good across device screens and experiences including mobile websites, apps and desktop sites, the company said Tuesday.
The move underscores Google's aim to enable native advertising via programmatic ad exchanges, though right now it affects only ad sales where there is a direct relationship between publisher and advertiser.
Native ads seen on desktop can look the same or radically different on mobile, depending on various publishers' strategies for each screen, according to Tom Bender, group manager at Google DoubleClick.
Google's solution works by asking marketers to provide individual ad components such as headlines, images and article text, then fits them to each screen. "It's hard to build custom ad units, to integrate them in the ad server, sell and traffic them," Mr. Bender said. "We designed this so it can truly support custom, proprietary ad formats."
"We had to make big changes in our ad server," Mr. Bender added. "For the last couple of decades format has basically meant size. Every ad has a rigid width and height. And that never changes. There is a lot of assumption in ad tech about size and we had to go up and down our stack and rip that concept apart."
Google worked with The New York Times to help make its native ad product for mobile devices, Frame Flex, work across screens. Frame Flex, introduced last year, is a suite of natively styled ads that increased click-through rates by 40% to 50% over standard 300x250 in-line units, according to the Times. But expanding the ad format beyond mobile proved challenging for the Times, which had to code and compile renditions of each ad for review by the advertiser.
"The big, outlining question whenever a publisher comes out with a custom ad solution is scale," said Sebastian Tomich, senior VP of advertising and innovation at the New York Times.
Referring to the Flex Frame product for advertisers, Mr. Tomich added, "We are firmly invested in how we can get as many clicks for our advertisers."
More than 200 publishers are using Google's native ad solution, including Aller Media in Norway and Grupo Expansion in Mexico. The native ad units can run both in traditional banner slots and a new, fully responsive fluid ad slot.