I had pretty much the opposite reaction – this is a chance for Google to prove what banners are really worth and replace a lot of that banner inventory with more targeted avails, aka Adsense or some variant based on DoubleClick tracking data.
For example, I think the much touted “view-through” metric that really helped out the banner business is up for grabs here. The unresolved problem (to my knowledge) with tracking view-through is the lack of cross-cookie tracking.
Let’s say you are in search mode, you search and arrive at a site that has banners. Even though you really were scanning the text on the page and ignoring the banners, you are counted as being “exposed” to the banners. You continue searching and land at the site the same banners are linked to, and complete an action.
The banners will get credit for the “view through” on this action, even though you were searching and / or clicking on PPC ads. To make matters worse, you will probably also credit SEO or PPC for the conversion – so you’re double-counting.
If you are Google with DoubleClick, you can reconcile and sequence all this activity if Google is the search engine being used, and figure out what the real value of a banner is. Branding value aside, of course..;)
Would you be surprised if the true value of a banner ad is a lot closer to an AdSense avail than an AdWords avail? I wouldn’t be; in fact, I bet banners are worth less that AdSense avails – at least for generating conversions.
I guess there will always be Branding folks who buy impressions and perceive value in them, without any further measurement. You could measure the success of this tactic using Engagement with the Brand site – overall Engagement should rise, no banner click required. Failing any improvement in Engagement, you could always say “the benefits all accrue offline” and be done with it.
Those interested in a more technical discussion of this view-through tracking issue, try here.