The advertising industry is awash in proposals for third-party cookie alternatives. But Google says it’s sitting out most of them because it doesn’t think they have a future.
“We just don’t see some of the solutions being proposed as durable for the long term,” Google Ads VP and GM Jerry Dischler told AdExchanger before the Google Marketing Live event this week.
“What consumers want is for us to take a higher privacy position,” he said.
For example, Google takes a strict no fingerprinting stance. And in March, when Google indicated that it wouldn’t support the Unified ID 2.0 initiative, the move sent shockwaves through the ad tech industry as it grappled with what Google’s non-participation would mean for the future of email-based ad IDs.
But constraints aren’t necessarily a bad thing, Dischler said, drawing a comparison to mobile.
People saw mobile as a “constrained platform,” he said. But once they embraced mobile, and tailored what they were doing to consumer preferences, innovation took off.
“Every industry has constraints,” Dischler said. “We need to do as well as we can within those constraints, and we’re optimistic that advertising has a bright future in a privacy-safe model based on great technology.”
So, what does Google see as a long-term durable solution for measurement and audience targeting? It’s not surprising that Google is all in on the Privacy Sandbox, which is being incubated by Chrome within the W3C.
“That’s where we’re putting all our efforts,” Dischler said.
Marketers, he said, have had enough of dealing with privacy and regulation.
“What we’re hearing from advertisers is they want to get back to marketing,” Dischler said. “All this privacy stuff, with GDPR and some of the movements the platforms are making and CCPA, [marketers] had to become experts in an area that is not marketing.”
Google has been investing in weaving automation into its tech so that it can do more of the heavy lifting for advertisers, from choosing the right ad creative to targeting.
During COVID-19, these systems didn’t go haywire.
“Anytime you’ve got statistical systems, the big question is, when you have a black swan event, do they work?” Dischler said. “Every single one of those systems held up and, in fact, those advertisers had better outcomes.”
But many marketers still aren’t completely comfortable with automation. Data is helping to bridge that gap, though.
“We've actually expanded the number of insights that we give back to our marketers to give them confidence in our systems and also more broadly to help their business,” Dischler said.
The pandemic-induced leap in transformation
“Every business is an online business,” Dischler said. Multichannel retailers that viewed online as an accessory business or a loss leader could no longer hold those views once the pandemic began in earnest.
“All those arguments have been lost,” he said.
When it comes to Google’s advertising business, marketers are increasingly willing to branch out of TV and go online to reach consumers with their branding dollars.
“Finally, we're seeing a broader acceptance of online as a way to access audiences across the funnel,” said Dischler. He has been with Google for nearly 16 years, but only stepped into the ads GM role in June 2020, less than four months after lockdown orders hit in the US.
The rate of change due to COVID has been stunning to watch, he said: “I started working in advertising in 2009, and I haven't really seen a time of greater transformation or experimentation than last year.”