Google Builds A Walled Garden, Microsoft Advances Parakeet To Support 'Ad-Funded Web'

Udayan Bose, CEO of NetElixir, an integrated digital marketing firm supporting more than 500 ecommerce brands, believes this will be the last Google Marketing Live conference before the search company fully implements Privacy Sandbox.

“A lot of the conversations will be around full-funnel marketing, and it’s becoming very clear that through first-party data, walled gardens are becoming more important,” he said. “Google is building its own walled garden through first-party data.”

One telling “straight-forward” announcement, Bose said, that Google Analytics 4 (GA4) will become the only analytics solution offered through Google beginning in July 1, 2023. It will support multiple devices and browsers, he said.

This garden includes YouTube. “They are trying to transition performance marketing into a full-funnel marketing,” he said. “This first-party data move gives them a huge opportunity to make it about the entire funnel.”



Bose expects Google to elaborate on this focus during Google Marketing Live (GML), which takes place Tuesday. GML has become a place for the company to share information on its latest advertising tools from Search to YouTube.

This year, marketers can expect Google to share more details about Privacy Sandbox for Android, providing data protection options for Android users similar to Apple App Tracking Transparency (ATT). But where does that leave Microsoft Parakeet, the company's data privacy protection project.

Parakeet, or Private and Anonymized Requests for Ads that Keep Efficacy and Enhance Transparency, differs from Google’s Fledge in that it adds an additional layer between the user and ad company.

Microsoft’s latest proposal explains that it supports an "ad-funded web” because it doesn’t “want to see a day where all quality content has moved behind paywalls, accessible to only those with the financial means.”

Through this proposal, Microsoft developers believe the process can improve end-user privacy while retaining the ability for sites to sustain their businesses through ad funding.

“We propose a new set of APIs that leverage a browser-trusted service to develop a sufficient understanding of user interests and therefore enable effective ad targeting without allowing ad networks to passively track users across the web,” according to a post. “This approach removes the need for cross-site identity tracking, enables new privacy enabling methods to support monetization, and maintains ad auction functionality within existing ad tech ecosystems.”

This document explains the proposal. It explains how the browser works with the browser-provided service to apply modifications to the ad request before it is sent to the ad network. It will anonymize the context provided by the publisher, augment the ad request with the browser-provided anonymized user's ad interests, anonymize the user's geographic information and other client-specific context where possible by making information coarser

It will support user interest inference models for advertisers based on the activities on their site, and use differential privacy and service-assisted global context to enforce limits on the identifiability of user interest information and contextual signals sent in ad requests. The ad network also will perform ad matching, ranking and auction with contextual and user interest information provided in the privacy-anonymized ad request.

It's not clear if privacy will draw a wider wedge through online advertising, making it more difficult for brands to participate in running ads on a variety of platforms. Data privacy has forced executives at some smaller marketing and advertising companies to make a decision on the companies it would support. “I’m predicting many similar walled gardens, closed systems, from Google to Amazon,” Bose said. “We had to make a decision on which walled gardens to support.”

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