Google is removing anonymized and encrypted user IDs from DoubleClick data transfer starting May 25, to align its data practices with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
The changes apply to all companies using the DoubleClick ID feature, according to a Google spokesperson.
“We're partnering with advertisers and partners on other ways to measure ad campaigns, including accelerating our expansion of Ads Data Hub,” the spokesperson said -- including agencies such as Omnicom’s data company, Annalect.
Google will make these changes as part of its ongoing commitment to user privacy. “Ad reporting is an important part of the digital ecosystem, and we are committed to working with advertisers and partners to help refine strategies, including investing heavily in the expansion of Ads Data Hub,” the spokesperson said.
In mid-2017, Google extended Ads Data Hub -- YouTube’s measurement system, which is designed to give marketers impression-level insights for campaigns across multiple devices -- to work with media bought through DoubleClick and the Google Display Network (GDN).
The data remains accessible to advertisers, but the move makes Google the gatekeeper of the data to prevent data sharing and requires advertisers to use its platforms and tools.
Victor Wong, chief executive officer at Thunder Experience Cloud, believes it’s a step back for omnichannel marketing and advertising, which sends tracking and analytics back to the days before data was attainable and technology couldn’t track online ad views.
“Without the identity you have no way of knowing if it’s the same person on multiple media placements,” he said. “The only way to know that is to buy everything through Google. The problem with that is it incentivizes Google to favor its own properties.”
Wong said that without an ID, even from an independent third party, marketers have no way to verify whether the same person who viewed the ad on a smartphone purchased the merchandise on a personal computer.
He likened the loss of data to specific businesses such as hospitality. Hotel operators, for example, keep a database of who’s in the hotel and the rate at which rooms are rented. “But what if you lost that customer data,” Wong asks. “You would no longer know who’s in which room and what they paid. All you would know is the occupancy rate of the hotel.”
This year, companies will focus on how to share much of this data without revealing personal consumer identities -- as well as giving advertisers the transparency they need. This will require transparency and privacy for advertisers to open up budgets and spend more on cross-channel comparisons.
Wong said the changes will require a third-party industry focusing on verification and measurement. Companies will need to step up and develop a model that will verify and protect the data.