The future of ecosystems and digital platforms according to Google
The guest of the aperitif: Jean-Philippe Gauthier. JP has been in the Quebec digital landscape for over 20 years. He is currently Head of Platforms & Digital Marketing Transformation at Google. He also ran the Mediative advertising network, worked at Bell (Sympatico and MSN), LaPresse and Streamtheworld. Let's say he has quite a few behind the tie!
Adviso wanted to tell him about the cookie apocalypse , when he is at the epicenter of the *major* evolution that the industry is going through. Jean-François Renaud asked him questions about…
- Data protection
- Post-cookie life
- The future of users/advertisers/publishers
- Google Analytics 4 (GA4)
- BigQuery and Google Cloud
- What businesses should do today to be well prepared
This aperitif is for all those who navigate the digital world. Because as JP mentioned…
The cookie apocalypse is the biggest change our industry will ever experience.
Nothing less. Let's go!
PRIVACY AS A BACKDROP
For a few years, users have already expected big digital companies to take a stand on data. It is therefore no surprise that the industry is changing.
However, this is not new. The Google Ads Settings page has been around for 7 years… It's just that not everyone knows about it. But according to JP, it has always been possible to have some control over your data.
Going it alone, Apple really got the ball rolling 2-3 years ago, taking drastic measures on personal data. Gradually, the other players also boarded.
Google's approach is different, more collaborative and open source than Apple. The objective is to consult each other and find a consensus between the giants (Facebook, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, etc.). That's good, but of course everything is longer and more complicated.
So, is Apple doing this to expand its advertising market share? JP thinks not; it is rather a question of business model and corporate culture, always centered on the user. We may have a different opinion on that.
An example? From now on, when you open the Facebook application on iPhone, a native warning is triggered : this site will track you , do you accept? The clash is quite significant, but Apple hasn't backed down and the two players still haven't found common ground - so Facebook needs to comply.
Could Apple sell an ad blocker device in the future? According to JP, it could be, but it would be a monetary disaster for publishers. And indeed, we tend to agree…!
SO WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THE COOKIE APOCALYPSE?
Broadly speaking , the cookie apocalypse means the permanent disappearance of third-party cookies and the limitation of primary cookies, preventing in particular remarketing and behavioral targeting, or even reducing the precision of the attribution and the sharing of certain metrics (reach/ frequency).
The change is taking place gradually, but will be inevitable in 2021 on the various browsers. For Chrome, we estimate rather 2023.
To learn more, read our articles “ The predicted erosion of your digital revenues ”.
WHAT ARE THE IMPACTS FOR THE USER?
It's true, personal data will be better protected. However, personalization has advantages: the advertising experience is much more pleasant. The products or services presented are relevant for *one*, for one's needs. Alas! With the cookie apocalypse, we're back to good old contextual targeting. It's definitely a step back.
In addition, it will be impossible to control the frequency. A bit like on ICI TOU.TV (not to name it) where you can see the same ad 10X in a row… Let's just say it's not the best experience.
Unfortunately, the ad experience is going to diminish for all of us. Would you like to see the same ad 15 times? Well, in the post-cookie world, it will become reality.
WHAT IMPACTS FOR ADVERTISERS?
For advertisers too, the impacts are significant. Remarketing is the elephant in the room. Third-party cookies will no longer be read by Google, while remarketing is based on this. And do you know how lucrative this tactic is for many businesses?
This, in addition to all changes to targeting, optimization, reporting and attribution. It was already difficult to track the user between Google and Facebook, so imagine in a post-cookie era…
To learn more, read our article “ The predicted erosion of your digital revenues ”.
WHAT ARE THE IMPACTS FOR PUBLISHERS?
The situation is much worse on the publisher side than on the Google and Facebook side of this world; at the technological level, they do not start from the same point. Publishers focus on news, content, not tech.
Google wakes up and thinks about tech. Not to mention that the platform has so many tentacles, that it is practically self-sufficient, able to organize itself internally with its systems.
In addition, as explained above, it will now be impossible for them to calculate reach and frequency, which will have a huge impact on their negotiation levers.
So how should publishers prepare? For JP, they should build their 1st party ecosystem as soon as possible (subscriptions, newsletters, etc.).
It's time for anyone on the web to build digital assets.
AND GOOGLE, IN THERE?
How can Google bring a post-cookie vision to life, being less well positioned than a Salesforce (for example) on the primary data side? First, JP believes that Google also has an advisory role with its customers. No one should put all their eggs in one basket; Google therefore encourages the use of other platforms depending on the context. Two, Google isn't just 3rd party performer , it's also 1st – a very high percentage of its users are logged in.
That said, there is still a lot to understand. Whether it's Facebook, Apple, Google… It doesn't matter, the action plan is not clear to anyone.
COULD THE LAUNCH OF GA4 ALLEVIATE THE APOCALYPSE?
GA4 is the next big iteration of Google Analytics. Could it help soften the post-cookie world? At present, we do not know. That said, the changes don't necessarily relate to the 3rd party . They focus on other things, for example:
- GA4 is a mobile revolution – application measurement will now be possible, reducing the blind spot between different devices.
- All hits become events, which allows to do much more with 1st party data (categorization, segmentation).
- Less sampling, even in the free version. A new platform and more efficient servers can now support it.
- Access to BigQuery will now be possible (it was only when purchasing Google 360).
AND THE BENEFITS OF BIGQUERY FOR BUSINESSES?
The platform is truly a game changer in the industry for several reasons, including:
- Democratizes machine learning ; you just need to know how to program in SQL, no need for more complex languages like Python or R.
- Shows real-time data , without the 4-hour delays with GA. This allows e-commerce sites to act very quickly.
- Don't do any sampling . It's a bit like taking advantage of Google360, without having to pay for the license (with a few advantages). vs
- Consolidates data from different sources (eg: POS, CRM, cash registers, etc.) to then use it in advertising campaigns, to better qualify leads , make better bids, know the lifetime value of a customer, etc.
- Compares the performance of all channels (eg Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc.), which will make it possible to overcome – a little – the issues of post-cookie attribution.
BigQuery is as big a revolution as GA was in 2006.
Find out more in our post " Why export your GA4 data to BigQuery ".
AND HOW IS IT GOING ON THE GOOGLE CLOUD SIDE?
How important is Google Cloud to Alphabet's ecosystem and growth? It was one of the company's big bets . Many resources have been mobilized. For JP, Google Cloud is now considered as any cloud with… edge marketing according to Adviso.
What remains more difficult, beyond the competition from other platforms, is the resistance of companies that have invested millions of dollars in their hardware servers and who do not want to lose all this investment.
Are you still being told that the cloud option is impossible since the data must remain in Canada (eg the government)? JP admits it still happens, but now Google has servers in Canada; we can therefore guarantee that the data stays in the country, which was not the case before.
And what about budget control (eg companies like Gsoft have developed a tool to better understand their cloud spending)? JP agrees – even if the initial costs are low, since it's on demand, you have to track your expenses and not necessarily put everything in the cloud, only what is relevant. And for this, it is possible to create a simple Data Studio dashboard.
Psst, Adviso is now Google Cloud certified. We say that, we say nothing!
ARE COMPANIES READY FOR ALL THIS DATA?
Some companies don't even look at their basic GA account… And it's not just looking at it, it's also analyzing it and doing something with it. For JP, the majority of these companies are not ready, for a host of reasons:
- Lack of resources
- Corporate culture
- Low technological understanding
- Teams that don't talk to each other (silos)
- Deficient change management
But companies that have understood the importance of their data will have a *very big* advantage over others.
What should businesses do to prepare today?
- Roll the GA or GA360 and GA4 tags at the same time, because 2021 is the year of transition. In the short term, the primary source will remain GA or GA360, however, history will begin to accumulate and companies will be ready to switch to the other system towards the end of the year. Warning: it will be impossible to import your GA data into GA4.
- Export your data into BigQuery and start being much more effective from a marketing and business point of view.
- Build (or optimize) your 1st party ecosystem . Loyalty programs, newsletters, subscriptions, name it ! Primary data becomes even more vital for businesses.
So! This is the focus of our interview “The future of ecosystems and digital platforms” with JP Gauthier. Don't want to miss any of the next Facebook Lives? Be sure to follow our Facebook page and stay tuned!