Google’s DoubleClick Ad ID Change Presents Both Challenge And …

Google’s decision to stop providing DoubleClick (DCM) advertising IDs in its ad server log files beginning May 25 will throw a wrench into multitouch attribution, because it will block marketers’ ability to compare Google campaigns with other ad platforms.

Whether this policy change is an existential threat to independent attribution or not, the loss of Google audience IDs has lit a fire under attribution technology providers.

But it’s hard to make sweeping statements about the DCM policy’s impact on attribution vendors because it depends which clients those measurement companies work for and whether the attribution tech is owned by an ad platform or data provider.

Impact on attribution vendors

Standalone attribution technology is most at risk.

If a brand uses Google’s ad stack and an outside attribution company, there’s a strong pitch to consolidate measurement with the tech giant’s attribution service, Google Analytics 360, formerly Adometry, said Jeff Greenfield, co-founder and COO of the attribution tech company C3 Metrics.

“Companies built on (Google) IDs may be locked into that structure,” said Brian Baumgart, co-founder and CEO of attribution provider Conversion Logic. But those companies are usually smaller brands, he said, since big brands can pay for data and analytics services and often have too much non-Google advertising to anchor their entire identity service on Google.

The DCM policy also amplifies the concerns of brands already uncomfortable with the data and leverage they cede to Google. “[Attribution vendors have] an opportunity to go out and show how advertisers can untether themselves,” Baumgart said.

Some brands will consider alternatives and then end up going all-in with Google. “But we’re seeing a real uptick in questions about ad server alternatives from clients who use DoubleClick,” said Steve Silvers, general manager and VP of Neustar’s identity management platform.

Flashtalking’s Encore attribution service now has a strong selling point to transition customers who use it for analytics but use DCM as their primary ad server, said Steve Latham, founder of Encore and now Flashtalking’s global head of analytics.

Google media will become less measurable to outside vendors, but Google was already a blank spot on the measurement map, Silvers said.

The lack of Google IDs will be a big headache for brands analytics and data science teams, since advertisers won’t get the granular reporting to which they’re accustomed. But for tech and attribution vendors, Silvers said Google is as likely to shake off business as it is to gain from the DCM update.

Closer to Google

There’s also plenty of opportunity in partnering with Google.

Consider C3 Metrics, a pure-play attribution company integrated with Google’s Ads Data Hub, the centralized data tool where Google user IDs can be measured.

Google had a dedicated team working with C3 on the ID transition well ahead of time, Greenfield said.

For C3, “this is an opportunity to work hand in hand with a company that has the largest worldwide device and audience graph,” he said.

If an advertiser and its attribution vendor accept the trade-off of relying on Google to match IDs instead of having user-level data themselves, the Ads Data Hub “clean room” can offer improved measurement features, said Rex Briggs, founder and CEO of the multitouch attribution company Marketing Evolution.

Google, for instance, can match audience IDs across mobile and desktop devices, as well as for other services like mapping. But if it just passes along the audience ID from the log file as it traditionally has, those connections are less likely to be made, Briggs said.

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