Ad buyers who want a holistic view of their campaigns will need to figure out how to connect data both within and without Google’s walls.
Although YouTube’s pixel policy change will, theoretically, allow advertisers to target users across devices using Google logged-in data (and now leverage Google search data to fine-tune that targeting), some say it will come at the expense of efficiency and transparency.
It might also fragment marketers’ horizontal attribution models.
Marketers and agencies that rely only on cookie-based DSPs and ad servers to target and measure on YouTube will lose out, said Venkat Achanta, chief data and analytics officer for Neustar and the former chief data officer of Walmart.
“To regain some of these efficiencies, marketers will need to work with independent identity providers to help them bridge and measure online and offline channels,” Achanta said.
Ric Elert, president of Conversant, shared some of Achanta’s concerns.
“Most of Google’s marketing platforms prevent independent measurement of the individual at scale,” Elert said.
“There are inherent flaws in limited measurement,” he added, “but when you are an obstacle to independent measurement entirely, you end up preventing the innovation that’s necessary to make advancements that benefit everyone in the industry, and most importantly create efficiencies for marketers.”
But many say the upside of Google’s people-based system outweigh the concerns.
By weaning itself from cookies, some predict Google will be able to better activate on YouTube intent data from search, behavioral data from DoubleClick, site data from Google Analytics and CRM data from Customer Match.
These developments could let Google offer better demo targeting on YouTube, “which is critical to accelerate shifts in TV budgets,” said Paul Boruta, head of ad products at YouTube branding platform, ZEFR.
A significant portion of YouTube’s audience is still anonymous. This problem, which stems from Google’s lack of a user-authenticated network like Facebook, may ease if it can infer more about an end user’s age or gender based on their intent signals (a major advantage for Facebook), Boruta predicted.
“The advertising industry is really struggling to move audience-based media strategies beyond the comfort zone of cookies, so there is clearly a market need and appetite,” noted Mike Baker, the CEO of DataXu.
These new developments with YouTube and Ads Data Hub indicate Google is “aiming to align with a limited number of tracking partners that provide value in a targeting and measurement ecosystem they're increasingly tying back to a more deterministic identity of Google users,” Merkle’s Bavaro reiterated.
Google declined a formal interview for this report.