In A First, Google Lets Advertisers Use Search Data For YouTube Ad Targeting

googGoogle is enabling  YouTube targeting based on search data, and will also release a proprietary YouTube measurement system.

The company discussed the first development in a Friday blog post that went live just minutes before the US presidential inauguration.

“Now, information from activity associated with users’ Google accounts may be used to influence the ads those users see on YouTube,” wrote Diya Jolly, director of YouTube product management, in the post. For example, a retailer could reach prospects who searched Google for winter coats and engage with them on YouTube.

Before, advertisers could only target YouTube ads against demographic and browsing behavior, not search histories.

The move is significant because it builds on Google’s earlier efforts to commingle data from apps or Chrome with an individual’s search information.

YouTube is also reducing support of third-party cookies and pixels to focus on mobile, multiscreen viewing.

“While technologies like pixels and cookies still have a role in the broader ecosystem, most were built for a single screen – neither pixels nor anonymous cookies were designed for the ways in which users increasingly watch content on YouTube, like on the mobile app or in the living room,” Jolly wrote.

So without pixels, how can marketers expect to measure? This is where the YouTube measurement system comes in, which AdExchanger has learned is called Ads Data Hub.

It is designed to let advertisers know how their YouTube campaigns are performing. While the cloud-based measurement system is not yet generally available, it has been tested by a handful of partners like video ad server Innovid. 

Tal Chalozin, co-founder and CTO of Innovid – which also works with Facebook – noted that the measurement system also serves as a safe harbor in some respects.

“Because this is a more data-infused transaction, they don’t want you to extract any personalized, logged-in information or other data Google may know about you,” Chalozin said.

A “safe harbor” would be necessary in this situation because measurement would not be happening through a pixel, but through Google’s proprietary system where personalized user information would live.

Apart from Google’s new cloud measurement system, YouTube works with companies like Nielsen, comScore, DoubleVerify, Moat and IAS for third-party measurement and Google says those relationships will continue.

Another source – an agency executive pitched on Google’s new cloud measurement system – was particularly skeptical, calling the Ads Data Hub a move away from a third-party marketplace, and that Google is raising its walls.

“It amounts to using DoubleClick as a shared DMP,” the source said. “The intent is to sell more inventory, not to improve advertiser performance.”

Adam Heimlich, SVP of programmatic and the managing director of Horizon Media’s HX division, said buyers should “rigorously test if the premiums associated with any stack offering are worth it [compared to the] open marketplace, where any type of data can be applied against any class of inventory.”

Some view the measurement system as a segue into more people-based marketing on Google’s part, and that’s seen as a welcome move away from desktop-based pixels and cookies.

“It’s nice to see Google starting to build solutions that will drive the future of marketing,” said Matt Tepper, chief strategy officer for Wunderman North America.

“Between Customer Match and this new announcement, it’s clear they are starting to help brands understand and activate audiences across platforms,” Tepper added. ” Addressability is quickly becoming the power behind modern marketing, and Google needs to figure out how to play, even without a user-authenticated network.”

“It used to be that you’d cookie a browser and used that for knowledge,” Chalozin said. “But in a cross-device apps and operating system world, those things break completely. So the real incentive for Google here is to make [cross-screen] advertising work.”

Google declined a formal interview request.

Ryan Joe contributed.

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