Back then the challenge was hitting a low cost-per-click or high clickthrough rate. Today digital marketers are contemplating personalisation, audience frameworks, platform integrations, cross-channel attribution... the list goes on.
Introduction of GMP
Fortunately, while digital marketers’ challenges have evolved, so too have the tools we use to meet these challenges. The Doubleclick suite of tools bought by Google back in 2007 has morphed into the Google Marketing Platform (GMP), described by Google as “a unified advertising and analytics platform for smarter marketing and better results”.
Now inventory is bought in open auction on premium publisher sites across the world, without a single word exchanged. Private marketplaces are negotiated with publishers for specific audiences on their inventory and homepage takeovers are bought via programmatic guaranteed - without a single IO being signed or ad tag exchanging hands.
“Regardless of how well thought out and executed a digital campaign is in terms of targeting, messaging, and creative design, if the results are not measurable it really serves no purpose.”
Google’s “unified advertising solution” includes Campaign Manager 360 (CM360) for measurement and tracking media, Display and Video 360 (DV360) for buying programmatic inventory, and Search Ads 360 (SA360) for search advertising. The “analytics” part includes GA360 (web and app analytics), Optimize360 (personalisation and experiments), Surveys360 (surveying online users), Tag Manager 360 (implementing marketing tags on site) and Data Studio (data visualisation).
In many ways CM360, the agency ad server, is the backbone of the stack. This is where the process starts with configuring advertisers and sites, creating floodlight activities (pixels placed on advertisers’ sites for tracking conversions and building audiences) and scheduling reporting. CM360 is also used to build campaigns and upload creatives.
Before embarking on a digital marketing campaign it is crucial that the required tracking is in place to measure campaign KPIs. Because regardless of how well thought out and executed a digital campaign is in terms of targeting, messaging, and creative design, if the results are not measurable it really serves no purpose. Measuring results generally requires implementing conversion or tracking tags across a marketer's site and needs developer resources, which are always in high demand and short supply. A tag management solution – in this case Google Tag Manager (GTM) - resolves this challenge by placing a single container tag across the site just once - and then deploying all future conversion tags via the Google Tag Manager console – be it AdWords tags, CM360 floodlight tags or even Facebook or Linkedin pixels. The tracking tags created earlier in Campaign Manager can be published straight into the Google Tag Manager platform - without the need of extracting tags and mailing them to a developer.
Complementing CM360 is Display and Video 360 (DV360 for short and formerly Doubleclick Bid Manager), a Demand Side Platform (DSP) used to buy inventory programmatically across websites, apps, audio platforms and connected TV.
“While targeting the correct audience in DV360 is vital to the success of any campaign, so is using the correct creative.”
DV360 offers marketers many advantages. Since CM360 and DV360 are so tightly integrated, creative uploaded in CM automatically becomes available in DV360 for targeting - so does the first-party audience segments created for clients in Campaign Manager. DV360 also comes prepackaged with its own extensive audience data points (called affinity and inmarket audiences) which can be used at no cost, while third-party data is also available which can be bought at a CPM uplift, if required.
With the majority of publishers also using the Google publisher ad-server (Google Ad Manager) further platform integrations between buyer and seller can be taken advantage of for publisher- and advertiser-hosted programmatic guaranteed deals.
While targeting the correct audience in DV360 is vital to the success of any campaign, so is using the correct creative.
Dynamic creative can be delivered through three different Google platforms – DV360, Google Studio or Google Ads. Deciding which platform to use would depend on the type of dynamic campaign being run. Studio is the most feature-rich of the three platforms and would be better suited for complex feeds and advanced logic, while DV360 offers a more simplified workflow with plug-and-play templates to build creatives and target audiences on the fly. Google Ads’ dynamic capabilities are more limited and only runs on the Google Display Network - but is useful for product remarketing.
Search Ads 360 (SA360) is used to manage your search engine accounts - so not just Google but Microsoft, Baidu and Yahoo as well. Think of it as a central hub to set up and optimise campaigns across all your search accounts. This includes automating bidding, budget management and conversion tracking.
GA360 is the enterprise version of Google Analytics and comes with a higher hit limit, more properties, custom dimensions, and metrics. Most significant for digital marketers though is that it also comes with native connections to CM360, DV360, Search Ads, Big Query and Salesforce.
The integration of GA360 with the buying components of the Google Marketing Platform allows marketers to create audiences in GA360 and share them to DV360 or Search Ads for targeting in campaigns. While it is already possible to build audiences for targeting from tracking tags on a website, GA360 provides a different lense for audience building – think time on site, scroll depth, user journeys or user interaction with specific marketing campaigns - or splitting site visitors between organic vs paid media campaigns for messaging and retargeting. This tight integration with the rest of the Google Marketing Platform also allows marketers to use GA360 as a single source of reporting truth, providing a holistic view of site performance metrics, organic efforts and paid campaigns where goals set up in and completed in GA360 can be linked back to individual creatives trafficked in CM360 and bought via campaigns in DV360. As of this writing, GA4, the successor to GA360, is currently available in Alpha.
“Although testing is important to find the best performing execution, it is also important to understand why a particular campaign, page or creative is driving under- or over-performance.”
A/B testing is a common practice in determining which creative or message drives the best results. Optimize 360 provides marketers with the opportunity to conduct A/B, multivariate and redirect tests on their websites to determine which variations of site design and content drive the best performance. Through its integration with GA360, marketers can see in analytics how site performance is impacted through these tests.
Although testing is important to find the best performing execution, it is also important to understand why a particular campaign, page or creative is driving under- or over-performance. Surveys360 empowers digital marketers to do fast market research amongst their customers or site visitors (by targeting audience lists created in DV360, Google Analytics or Google Ads) or broader audience verticals to determine brand lift, customer sentiment and creative effectiveness. With Surveys 360 it’s also possible to do remarketing surveys to see why, for example, particular users may have abandoned a shopping cart or dropped off in a particular part of the conversion funnel.
With multiple campaigns running across Search and Display and experiments live in GA360, it’s important to make sense of all the data being generated. DataStudio, the (free) data visualisation tool by Google, is the final part of the Google Marketing Platform and does exactly that.
At last count Data Studio had 18 Google product connectors (with many more additional third-party connectors) – including connectors for CM360, SA360, DV360 and Google Analytics. These connectors allow marketers to build plug-and-play data visualisations with most of the popular reporting metrics in the platform, without the need for coding. There is even a template library available to get started with GMP product dashboards. However, for more bespoke data manipulation and cross-platform visualisations, Google’s Big Query can be used to pull custom data sets into a bespoke dashboard.
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