Is Google taking over the attribution landscape after GDPR?

Google is restricting the use of DoubleClick IDs post-GDPR. What does this change mean for independent attribution technologies? How can marketers adapt to this new ad tech landscape?

Go to the profile of Tereza Litsa
May 30, 2018
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Marketing attribution can help marketers discover the blind spots of their strategy by focusing on all the touchpoints of their funnel. It has turned into a rising trend among marketers as it offers a great opportunity of being more efficient with the budget.

Google wanted to explore the trend of a data-driven attribution model by presenting its own Google Attribution. The goal was to improve reporting to improve the customer experience and the marketing impact across channels through the power of Google’s tools.

The news has been initially welcome last year as an additional focus on the benefits of attribution. However, there has been a growing skepticism right after the effect of GDPR and Google’s attempt to restrict its data.

Is Google attempting to gatekeep its data?

Google announced last month that it will limit the use of DoubleClick IDs by the time GDPR takes effect in the European Economic Area.

This means that from now on marketers won’t have access to DoubleClick IDs from DoubleClick Bid and DoubleClick Campaign Manager, which limits the reporting options in a holistic advertising overview. It won’t be easy anymore to combine the data across different ad platforms and this certainly disrupts the ad tech ecosystem.

It feels like Google is trying to gatekeep its data, following the Global Protection Data Regulation, using this opportunity to ensure that they will be more mindful with their users’ data to comply with the regulations.

The news caught many marketers by surprise, as DoubleClick ID was helping them analyze and compare their data in an attempt to improve their cross-platform measurement.

Ad tech and attribution vendors are equally concerned about this disruption as it creates an additional challenge of maintaining their platforms’ relevance in this new world.

Although this change currently affects the countries in the European Union, it wouldn’t be surprising if it ended up rolling out globally.

What would this change mean for all of us then?

How is the attribution landscape affected by this change?

If marketers feel confused by the change, then ad tech and attribution vendors are struggling to see the bigger picture for their business.

Google’s decision to stop providing DoubleClick IDs means that many attribution technologies will be unable to track all data. The shift will possibly impact their business, while marketers won’t be able to analyse all the touchpoints from one platform.

There is a growing concern among independent attribution platforms that the landscape is changing towards a favored monopoly from Google. The effect of GDPR is helping Google in improving their products and services while complying with the regulations. Thus, this decision will bring more marketers in Google’s services in an attempt to analyze the performance of their campaigns.

Since GDPR is making it harder for everyone to access a holistic attribution strategy, there needs to a re-evaluation of the existing tactics.

An overview of the initial problems this change could bring can be summarised in these points:

  • Difficulty in measuring multi-channel attribution
  • Struggle for marketers trying to compare data across different platforms
  • Possibly missed touchpoints from one platform to another
  • No access to consumer data captured through Google advertising through third-party apps
  • A difficulty for independent attribution platforms to compete with Google’s data

As it seems, a data-driven attribution strategy may still be crucial but it won’t necessarily come from one platform anymore.

Marketers have the option to either rely even more on Google or to seek for an alternative option to analyze the data.

a. Focus on Google's Attribution 360 and Ads Data Hub

Attribution 360 aims to help companies understand attribution through analytics that uncover all the touchpoints that assist a conversion. This is Google's attempt to beat the competition in attribution and it raises the question about the customers who go beyond Google and the decision you need to take about the analysis of your data.

Google introduced Ads Data Hub to provide cross-device insights for media campaigns. The service will gain a new audience from this change in DoubleClick IDs and more marketers will start using it. This shift will bring a bigger connection with Google and its services, which may also bring a concern of accessing too many insights through one provider. Moreover, if there needs to be a decision of picking one platform, how about other channels and competitors, such as Facebook, for example?


b. Going beyond Google

It currently seems like a bold move to seek for an alternative option for ad reporting as part of an attribution strategy, but it's not impossible. There are alternative providers and there may be an increased incentive to make the switch at this stage. What's important is to make the research on the best solution for your business and how you can benefit from a move. There may be an initial disruption, but you can still explore how to use an independent attribution platform to access the data you need the most.

Although the second choice may be more challenging at this stage, the results may surprise you once things start becoming clearer.

The future of attribution platforms

Attribution platforms are currently faced with the challenge of surviving this change. Standalone attribution technologies need to explore their next steps and how they can still convince companies to trust them in the new era.

Despite the uncertainty, this change is not necessarily bringing the end of independent attribution platforms. It can be harder at this stage to see your service competing with Google’s domination, but this doesn’t mean that there won’t be other attribution options.

Google can be considered the gatekeeper of your data, but it’s also presenting partnering options to advertisers to help them improve their reporting.

Ad reporting is important enough to stop being effective at a holistic level and Google knows that it needs to build trust with vendors to promote its own products.

Moreover, there will be further focus on Ads Data Hub in an attempt to improve collaboration with advertisers and partners. Thus, Google wants to highlight its service but there will still be opportunities of surviving in the new landscape.

More companies will seek for attribution options that offer a measurement that becomes as detailed as possible across different channels. These attribution platforms will see bigger success, even by reaching the stage of acknowledging that they may need Google’s help in consolidating data at some point.

Brands will face the dilemma of going full on Google or trying alternative attribution solutions. The challenge will come on the data teams to explore the best options that will allow them to analyze their campaigns in the best possible way.

Marketers will still focus on accessing granular reporting to prove the ROI of their work.

Despite the initial confusion on picking the best attribution technology, the goal will be to find the best solution that does not rely on one measurement to ensure that they shine a light to as many touchpoints as possible.

Go to the profile of Tereza Litsa

Tereza Litsa

Social Media Manager, Lightful

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