In March, Google called out the integration of Admeld and publisher direct sales. Today at its thinkDoubleClick client advisory board, it will highlight the inclusion of Wildfire (acquired for $250 million in 2012) into Google’s DoubleClick Digital Marketing (DDM). (Blog post.) Google display chief Neal Mohan tells AdExchanger there’s a “$200 billion opportunity” to unlock as brand awareness ad budget waits for a compelling case to spend more online.
Google’s plan: get Wildfire to help with the attribution modeling in DDM.
This is an interesting and inevitable next step, given the fact that an important part of Wildfire’s product offering has to do with promoting, “amplifying” and spending on Facebook – one of Google’s key competitors. Facebook data will help DoubleClick clients solve the attribution challenge, but Mohan stresses that the way Wildfire works with Facebook today is the same way it worked with Facebook prior to Wildfire's acquisition by Google.
As for what datasets Google will use through Wildfire, Mohan preferred to keep it high-level. He said DDM is merely integrating Wildfire's measurement and tracking of social engagement on a brand's social presence. Wildfire is a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer holding the Pages, Insights and Apps badges (see profile).
Mohan added, “The underlying technologies are a lot of the existing technologies in terms of links and cookies and what have you. But it's not any additional dataset. It's information that the brand would already have, just via their Wildfire tool. This is a mechanism for them to see it in a place where they're seeing the rest of their paid media (DDM), and the ability to actually measure it down to, perhaps, a conversion event, off a tag on their page.”
In other words, the Wildfire signal on the brand page is now getting sucked into the overall marketing dashboard of DDM so marketers can presumably better understand how ad spend – social and not-so-social – are working together. Sounds compelling, but Google’s DoubleClick Bid Manager DSP (was Invite Media) has yet to gain access to another brand favorite – Facebook Exchange (FBX) inventory, with its unique scale and frequency attributes.
Among the big players in the online ad business, it’s increasingly coming down to owned-and-operated ad network strategies. Google's owned-and-operated properties are where Facebook can never venture. Likewise, Google can’t get inside Facebook. This could mean a coming war in the (mobile) ad network space for the short-, mid- and long-tails. Or does it come down to the best yield and performance delivered through the competing ad exchanges?
Regarding the Wildfire integration into DDM, Mohan was clear that other social platforms are in play here – think Twitter, Pinterest and so on. He said the involvement of Google+ in the attribution measurement challenge is still a ways off, but possible.
Mohan also discussed the integration of native advertising placements into DFP, a soundbyte sure to prick up the ears of those who think native advertising is not a display ad. Yet all Google is doing is allowing some flexibility around the attributes of serving code and ad tags on a page. Doesn’t this just prove that native advertising can be programmatic? Mohan told AdExchanger, “Obviously, one of the characteristics of native advertising is that it's unique to that particular publisher. But there's no reason why you can't support those unique creatives, unique ways of engaging consumers, and do that via technology like programmatic. So that's something that we believe in. We're obviously not there today, but I don't see any reason why that couldn't happen in the future.”
Video advertising is also on Google's docket as it aims to help relieve the dearth of publisher video ad inventory by allowing easy integration of different inventory sources. For example, on behalf of advertiser clients, a publisher can bundle its own inventory as well as the inventory of publishing partners and/or their YouTube channel through DFP.
Of particular interest here is that users are steadily pulling media companies toward the YouTube publishing platform. Google knows it needs content – and publishers – to feed the YouTube beast. Making all of the publisher’s inventory sources work together serves the publisher and Google.
Finally, Mohan discussed Google Web Designer, which he said was the most important part of his cavalcade of announcements, as once again brand ad spend was in the crosshairs – this time via the “big idea." Mohan said the Google Web Designer tool is already in beta with a number of creative agencies, allowing them to create ads in HTML5 so they can run across whatever device the consumer happens to be on. For those versed in the DoubleClick nomenclature, Mohan clarified, “For a long time, DoubleClick Studio has seamlessly integrated into what used to be called DFA, which we're now calling DoubleClick Campaign Manager. Google Web Designer will work seamlessly with Studio.”
View the thinkDoubleClick live event from 12 noon ET to 3:30 pm ET on Tuesday, June 4, with the on-demand version shortly thereafter: