Google Announces New Analytics 360 Platform
Google just rolled out a key addition to its marketing suite, Analytics 360, to compete with industry incumbents Oracle and Adobe Audience Manager. In many ways, Google is the ideal company to maintain such technology because it already knows so much information about its users. Worldwide, Google responds to 3.5 billion search requests on its search engine daily: 40,000 per second. It even uses such data to warn the CDC of influenza clusters, and presumably does some other things as well.
But Google’s Scrooge McDuck-like vault of consumer data won’t make it a world class DMP alone; 3rd party data will always be unrefined compared to the gems of first party data many of Google’s prospective clients have already amassed about their customers.
So what does Google need to do to disrupt the DMP space and not just add an alternative platform? Here are five pillars of a winning DMP for Google:
1. Leverage mobile browsing and mobile commerce data
Anecdotally, these days everyone’s head is always buried in the screen of their mobile phone. Empirically, online shoppers’ heads are increasingly buried there. The research firm eMarketer estimates nearly $75 billion worth of merchandise in the US was purchased with mobile devices in 2015, an increase of 32% from 2014, and about a fifth of all ecommerce. Any digital marketing platform that tracks users and segments will have to handle the mobile space artfully.
Google has an immense potential advantage here: the Android OS (with its suite of tools, like Maps and Google Play) and some wildly popular apps, like Waze. Nearly 63% of smartphones in the US run Android, almost twice the share of iOS. While other integrated marketing platforms can boast access to other tools (like Adobe and Oracle), no DMP provider is better fit to leverage their own operating system and default browser (Chrome) for mobile phones and tablets.
A key value prop for Analytics360 is the focus on the “multi-screen” world, which is a reference both to mobile devices and their increasing role in digital marketing. The platform also provides an increased emphasis on rich media, like video. (Quick quiz: who owns YouTube, which had over 180 million unique monthly visitors in 2015?)
2. Provide world class account support and services
DMP providers with experience in the marketing technology world understand that a large part of their job is to integrate with a brand’s marketing execution. This empowers clients to take action against the insights a DMP generates. Many DMPs bake in services as a percent of revenue (if integrated with demand side platforms, or DSPs, which actively bid on digital inventory). Others include consulting hours in their contracts. Some have gone so far as to create credentials for those trained on their platform, much like partner competencies for software workloads.
Service is something Google leads with in its Analytics360 marketing: first below the fold on the introductory website, with a clear message that account management and training are rolled into every contract. While this isn’t a differentiator, Google is wise to recognize that technology takes a back seat to usability, applicability and support in the eyes of business decision makers who would want to leverage Analytics360 quickly.
3. Play nice with the other kids in the sandbox
The patchwork marketing technology suite of many brands is a reflection not on their own organization, but rather the organic and highly innovative digital marketing ecosystem. As of 2016, there are over 3,800 vendors operating in the martech space (about 3,500 unique vendors, which represents an 80% YoY growth, according to the graphic’s owner, Scott Brinker).
Interoperability, both with other vendors and homegrown CRM or CMS solutions, is nonnegotiable for many customers. Over time, Google’s stack may become an appealing, more coordinated alternative to the dense forest of point solutions now available, but Google’s DMP must hold the data from these other solutions together. This goes for data collection, like data onboarding, through audience definition and attribution, to campaign execution.
So, before you try to kick everyone else out of the stack, be sure you play nice.
4. Pay close attention to viewability and brand reputation protection services
Poor viewability is like painting a beautiful billboard for people to see on the freeway and turning it so it faces a neighboring warehouse instead of oncoming traffic. When marketers talk about wasting digital ad spend, they could be talking about targeting the wrong segments, or about retargeting someone who has already made a purchase. Those mistakes are dwarfed by paying for ads that consumers never see at all because the ads aren’t visible.
In fact, in Q3 2015, only 55% of ads were described as viewable (viewable on a page for one second or longer) according to Admetrics, who looked at a sample of 10 billion impressions in the US and Europe. The Interactive Advertising Bureau targeted a viewability benchmark of 70% for 2015, which might seem paltry but would have been a fantasy just three years ago, before advancements in viewability scoring and protection made a moonshot seem more like one small step.
While Google’s DoubleClick covers brand protection and fraud prevention, viewability and true optimization aren’t discussed with Analytics360. Without casting aspersions directly on Google, remember it both bids on inventory and, through its extensive properties, supplies it. Generally, the CPM (cost per thousand) method of purchasing programmatic inventory means viewability is a pain for publishers, who aren’t accountable for the impact of ads shown on their site, only for documenting the raw reach of their properties. In other words, billboards might get plastered on the inside of a dumpster, rather than the outside of a shop window, as long as a thousand are plastered somewhere.
That said, if Google plays nice with the other kids in the sandbox, there are a number of robust viewability solutions, many of which are integrated with DSPs, that can drastically increase the overall viewability and, therefore, the cost effectiveness of digital ads.
5. Integrate offline data (e.g., in-store purchases) seamlessly
The mobile commerce stat from earlier ($75 billion) comes with a caveat: that revenue accounts for just 1.6% of all retail sales in the US. So, while mobile is still important as a mechanism to research products and retailers need to understand the mobile customer journey, it’s a rounding error compared to the traditional in-store experience.
DMPs provide great value to retailers when they reflect the total customer journey. While many DMP providers have some offline DNA like Neustar, Google screams digital. Since many DMPs use data onboarding services to bring that offline data into their systems, any DMP looking to differentiate itself and create market share in a B2C omnichannel vertical must prove it can efficiently and elegantly marry the two worlds.
One aspect we haven’t touched on yet, but that can be instrumental in a retailer’s DMP selection, is data integrity. Not the quality of information going into reports or audience making, but completeness of the data ownership by the client and not the provider.
To consumers, the aggressive march towards personalization and data collection has proven we own very little of our digital footprint. Facebook owns our photos and profile, LinkedIn owns our professional histories, if we choose to put them online.
Individuals can make that choice – we can opt in to systems that collect and store our data in exchange for free services that can enhance our quality of life by keeping us connected and giving us access to important social services. Companies, though, have strict policies about the integrity of their customer data. Ultimately, if Google is going to be successful, it will have to demonstrate that business users of its tools maintain data sovereignty, especially of their first party data onboarded into the tool.
Will Google be successful? Barring a data scandal (so hot right now) or poor reputation for support and services, I’d say absolutely. Its platform already looks promising and, my goodness, just look at the potential for execution across search, display, video and other assets. It’s almost frightening how complete the Google loop might become and it’ll be fascinating to see how Adobe and Oracle respond.
To learn more about Lenati’s DMP expertise and our point of view for brands and digital marketing excellence, drop us a line.