A New Approach to Attribution: How Marketers Can Adapt

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In the ever-evolving digital marketing landscape, staying ahead of the curve is not just an option—it's a necessity. As we sail into the future, the Google Marketing Platform is preparing for a seismic shift in its attribution strategies, setting the stage for a new era in online advertising. Today, we delve into the intricacies of Google's Attribution Odyssey and the impending changes, particularly those involving cookies.

The Current Attribution Landscape

The Google Marketing Platform has long been a beacon for marketers seeking accurate and insightful attribution data. The platform's current model relies heavily on cookies, those tiny bits of data that follow users as they traverse the vast landscape of the internet. Cookies have been the unsung heroes, silently collecting information about user interactions and helping marketers understand the customer journey.

However, the attribution playbook is about to undergo a rewrite.

The Cookie Chronicles

Enter the era of change. As privacy concerns gain prominence and regulatory landscapes shift, cookies face increased scrutiny. Google is poised to respond with a series of platform changes designed to prioritize user privacy without sacrificing the quality of attribution data.

  1. The Sunset of Third-Party Cookies
    Google has announced plans to phase out third-party cookies on its Chrome browser in 2024. This move aims to bolster user privacy by limiting cross-site tracking, but it also prompts marketers to rethink their attribution strategies.
  1. First-Party Data Renaissance
    With third-party cookies on the way out, first-party data becomes more valuable than ever. Google Marketing Platform encourages marketers to cultivate and leverage their first-party data to maintain a robust understanding of user behavior.
  1. AI and Machine Learning Integration
    Embracing the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning, Google is enhancing its attribution models. These technologies will play a pivotal role in filling the void left by traditional tracking methods, providing more accurate insights into customer touchpoints.


How Will Marketers Leverage Tools to Help Them? 

The Privacy Sandbox

Most marketers don’t — and won’t — have access to the Privacy Sandbox. However, they can leverage learnings from it. As the Privacy Sandbox develops more advanced use cases, marketers will gain the ability to replicate some of the current use cases that rely on third-party cookies or other tracking mechanisms. This evolution will enable marketers to continue to leverage sophisticated targeting, attribution and measurement techniques while ensuring greater privacy protection for users. By embracing the Privacy Sandbox outcomes and its innovative solutions, marketers can adapt to the changing digital landscape and maintain effective advertising strategies that respect user privacy preferences. 

For those looking for additional guidance or wanting to explore the Privacy Sandbox, don’t be afraid to seek out additional help. Knowledgeable partners like Adswerve have access to the Privacy Sandbox and can help explore potential solutions tailored to our customers' journey through the evolving digital landscape. A single conversation might be the starting point for clarity and direction. Please reach out if you’re interested in how this could benefit your strategy.

Google Attribution Reporting API

The Google Attribution Reporting API is a programming interface that allows developers to access and retrieve attribution data from Google Ads and other Google marketing products. This API enables users to programmatically access and integrate attribution data, such as conversion metrics and attribution models, into their reporting tools or systems. With the Attribution Reporting API, developers can automate the retrieval of attribution data, allowing for more efficient analysis and reporting of marketing campaign performance across different channels and touchpoints.

Multi-Touch Attribution Models and Marketing Mix Modeling 

Multi-touch attribution (MTA) models, especially Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM), will be crucial in navigating digital media attribution's future.  MMM is a statistical analysis technique that helps marketers understand the impact of various marketing channels and tactics on overall performance and outcomes, such as sales or conversions.

Clients have successfully employed the power of MMM/MTA for a multitude of use cases to understand their digital media performance across various channels. Some real-life examples throughout the last year include guidance for optimizations, bidding and budgeting based on a customer acquisition cost (CAC). Using CAC from multiple data sources, advertisers can gain a more holistic view of their customer acquisition efforts and identify opportunities to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Use cases may vary by each client’s needs, whether a long-term analysis as the source of truth or a short-term test against other measurement tools. 

Client examples utilizing MMM/MTA over the past year have varied — from heavy reliance on the modeled data to dictate monthly budgets based on the impact of ROI from each media channel to head-to-head A/B testing measuring cohort analysis to further understand audience control. 

Server Side Tagging in Google Tag Manager 

Server-side cookies are cookies set, managed and accessed by a server rather than a user's browser. They are often used with client-side cookies to enhance security, improve performance and manage user sessions more effectively. In the context of first-party data, server-side cookies can be crucial in helping websites and applications collect and manage user data. Advanced use cases of this setup could ultimately help the durability of 1st-party cookies.

Preparing for the Transition

Adapting to the forthcoming changes in the Google Marketing Platform's attribution landscape requires a proactive approach:

  1. Educate Your Team
    Ensure that your marketing team is well-versed in the upcoming changes. Understanding the evolving attribution models will empower them to make informed decisions.
  1. Audit Your Data Sources
    Take stock of your existing data sources and evaluate their compliance with the changing privacy standards. Diversify your data collection methods and prioritize first-party data.
  2. Explore New Attribution Models
    The Google Marketing Platform is likely to introduce alternative attribution models. Experiment with different approaches to discover what aligns best with your campaign goals and audience.

The Journey to Come

The attribution journey is on the brink of a revolution, and Google Marketing Platform is at the helm. By embracing these changes and adapting your strategies accordingly, you can confidently navigate the evolving landscape. As we bid farewell to third-party cookies and usher in a new era of attribution, the key lies in staying agile, informed and ready for the marketing adventures ahead.

We’re here to help! Adswerve has layers of resources ready to hop in and help you plan and execute your data and media strategy. Contact us to get started.