Google declined to provide a timeline for when its advertiser clientele might see enhanced capabilities – and it also claimed not to have any benchmarks around how many opt-ins it would need to comfortably continue with its data-mingling plans.
Instead, Google framed the issue in terms of its cross-screen ad preferences infrastructure, which has frankly lagged behind some competitors such as Facebook, Twitter and Amazon. For instance, its ad controls require device-by-device management, meaning users reporting an annoying ad on a laptop would have to do so again on a mobile device. In merging browsing data with account information, Google users can have a central control hub.
As dandy as that is, it’s hard to overlook the initiative's potential impact on cross-device ad targeting. Even though Google is downplaying the benefits for marketers, it’s also persuading consumers to opt in by promising they’ll see more relevant ads, which naturally indicates advertisers will have better targeting capabilities across devices.
“The ability to provide sequential ads across devices is a big deal, and breaking down the silos is clearly important to help Google leverage its massive ecosystem more effectively – particularly as they’re adding search to the mix,” said Mindshare North America Chief Data Officer Rolf Olsen.
While many industry insiders look at Facebook with its impressive mobile revenue stream and its Atlas ad server as the de facto cross-device giant, Rob Griffin – chief innovation officer at the boutique digital agency Almighty – thinks Google could make a bigger play.
“Google has way bigger potential for being a cross-device solution than what Facebook has,” said Griffin, a former senior exec at French holding company Havas. “So much of Facebook usage is mobile-only. But Google can look at all the things they have and if they combine them, they are by default cross-device.”