Behind the numbers: unmasking the complex reality of platform advertising 

You know it’s a pretty good time for advertising on platforms when even Snapchat manages to pull off a solid quarter.

The mobile messaging app saw revenue rise 5% in the third quarter following two straight quarters of declines. It’s safe to say this was a moment of relief for the beleaguered mobile messaging app, which was at the epicenter of an ad slowdown that drained ad spending from major platforms for most of last year and the first half of this year.

That slowdown seems to be over for now if the updates from the likes of Google and Meta are any indication. But here’s the real clincher: while online ad advertising seems to be on the rise across all the major platforms, they have all matured into slower-growth companies. The era of continuous blockbuster quarters is a thing of the past.

It might not look like this from the headline numbers doing the rounds, but dig below the surface and there are tells to look out for. 

Let’s dive into Alphabet’s recent financial update as an example. Just like Snap, its ads business had a pretty good third quarter. Search ad revenue saw a robust 11.3% growth compared to the same period last year, and YouTube did even better, with its earnings shooting up by nearly 12.5% to a cool $7.95 billion from a year ago.

So far, so good, right? But there’s more to the story when it comes to Alphabet’s outlook.

Take Google, for instance. Execs were all about showcasing the growth in YouTube and YouTube TV, according to Aaron Levy, the vp of paid search at Tinuiti. To him, it looks like Google is setting its sights on making a big splash in this space, trying to steal a chunk of the wallet share from

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