Between the Lines: Understanding Google's 360 Suite
March 31, 2016 | Written by Bill Bruno
The entire industry is abuzz with Google’s recent launch of the 360 Suite, which signifies the launch of a formal stack around what was previously known as Adometry and Google Analytics Premium. If you’d like a nice recap of the launch and what the suite includes, you should take a look at James Martin’s blog here.
While everyone is simply discussing the products and the excitement around that, I think there are a few key things that deserve a bit more attention, particularly as it pertains to our industry and the day-to-day decisions marketers are being faced with. Google has had a knack for steering the industry and making things more popular amongst marketers, such as their original launch of analytics and entrance into the tag management space. So, what are the three things you need to know in order to read between the lines?
1. Data Management
Most people probably saw this coming when Google started allowing Premium users to build retargeting lists within Google Analytics Premium, but Google has officially entered the Data Management Platform (DMP) space with the launch of Audience Center 360. One of the more prevalent discussions we’ve had with customers over the past 18 months, especially given the known issues with transparency in advertising, is how to build an effective DMP and ultimately begin to take some of the ownership in-house for the data and segmentation that would connect to a DSP. In Google’s case, they also have their own Demand-Side Platform (DSP) to help with that.
I’ve written about data ownership time and again, and how marketers need to focus on converting third party data to first party data. Given the real-time nature of the 360 Suite, Google is now offering an easy way to begin to connect behavior data immediately into a DMP/DSP combo for segmentation. Taking that a step further with the data upload capabilities within Google Analytics 360, combined with the direct connect with BigQuery, and suddenly you can build yourself a complete multi-channel architecture that can better inform your advertising investments.
Attribution has been the great white buffalo people continually try to catch. Speaking candidly, the Attribution 360 product is simply a rebrand of the Adometry solution…for now. What I’m more interested in is the “action” portion of Attribution once you’ve built the model and understand the output.
With the direction that Google is going with the launch of the aforementioned DMP, Adwords, and DoubleClick, you can see a future where marketers could directly connect the output from Attribution 360 into the campaign management platforms, automatically adjusting the investments accordingly month to month.
That’s where the real power lies with attribution. Many people get hung up on creating the model, but the model is only half the battle. It would be like buying a car but never putting gas in the tank. We are constantly working with our customers to help them understand the outputs of our econometric and attribution modeling projects, and in many cases, working with the agencies themselves to ensure the right changes are made in the planning and buying. Quite frankly, that’s a lot of back and forth, and I fully expect to see more and more advancements in the space with regards to being more efficient with that time.
3. Closed or Open?
And now for the bad news, folks. Beyond all of the innovation and power being put in the hands of marketers with technology stacks such as the Google 360 Suite, Adobe’s Marketing Cloud, IBM, and Oracle stand in the hurdle of being locked-in to a single stack.
Dating back to roughly 2007, marketing analytics vendors all proclaimed a theme of “openness” for their platforms -- marketers would be able to freely get data into and out of their platforms to use as they see fit. Over the past few years, that is becoming less and less the case. The Google 360 launch is yet another example of a closed platform: a situation where marketers will not be able to truly harness the value of a single technology without buying into the entire stack (or most of it!).
The question we should be asking here is how much longer will one of the tag management value props of “build your own marketing cloud” hold true? I truly believe that marketers should follow that mantra, but as these stacks become more integrated and powerful, you start to question whether or not that’s still a viable approach. If it’s no longer a viable approach, how much risk will advertisers have in regards to the common vendor lock-in challenges concerning licensing fees?
Google definitely has a way of shining a light on trends and suddenly making them a reality or necessity for marketers. The launch of the 360 Suite is definitely exciting, as are the innovations coming out of the other giants in the industry. One thing is for certain: targeting your customers in a meaningful way and using your own data in real-time to do so is becoming easier and easier. The rest? Well, I think we can all agree that remains to be seen.