The foundations of digital measurement and the ability to track the performance of paid media investments has undergone seismic changes over the last 18 months, with even more set to come.
There are many attribution methodologies that can help you understand what drives performance in digital paid media investments. All of them rely on some form of website tracking to follow the customer journey and understand how each channel plays into the final conversion. However, these changes begin to create black holes in the data sets we use to judge success and also how performance-oriented campaign optimisation identify the right types of audience groups to show ads to.
So, let’s explore what these changes are and how they might impact your paid media measurement and targeting efficiency.
The first changes arrived in the form of legislation and the need to collect explicit consent for each pixel fired, alongside the rollout of Intelligent Tracking Prevention, which is the term commonly used to describe where browsers delete tracking cookies, either in a single session, a single day, or a set timeframe.
These two things have created gaps in the analytics, measurement and targeting of specific user groups, most notably but not exclusively on Safari, which according to Statista, accounted for a third of the market share as of January 2021.
So, what gaps has this created? If you are using Google Analytics, the media referral source of conversions that take place outside the shelf life of the cookie before it is deleted, means that many more conversions will be attributed to direct in Google Analytics, or assigned to other channels that might be using CNAME Cloaking to bypass or delay the removal of tracking cookies by the browser. This means the audience journey we are seeing in GA and the individual channel performance is being under reported, not just for paid media, but also for organic channels too. A nice way to check how much of an impact to your business is to look at benchmarks of performance and contribution by channel when looking back in time.
For example: Looking at direct to site conversion from 2018 to the start of this year to see how much this has increased by, then look at investment comparisons and contributions to begin to piece together the puzzle.
Another basic way to look at the impact of ITP, is to look at the total volume of users being bought in campaigns optimised to ROI or CPA that come as a share of paid traffic from Safari. It is likely you will see that the volume of Safari users being bought by these tactics has decreased when factoring in the differentials from media investment and channel mix.
In short: Less conversions will be attributed to users on these browsers and algorithms set to performance KPI’s such as tROAS and ROI will naturally start to exclude these audiences. This can also be seen by the drop in auction competition and CPM price for certain audiences using ITP protected browsers.
With the arrival of FLoC and the IDFA privacy update from Apple, privacy by design and the way we target and measure the success of digital advertising must change. It is time for brands to embrace this new normal and accept that measurement and targeting in digital will be less accurate.
Can you be confident that your business has taken the necessary steps to future proof your business and ensure your digital marketing strategy is addressing the right users with the correct measurement framework, to maintain an understanding of what media investments and audiences are driving wider business outcomes?
At Sub2, we have invested heavily in developing tools, technology, and methodology to ensure our clients are prepared for these changes. We have developed non-PII targeting solutions that help cut wastage from media buying and can build bespoke measurement frameworks to ensure some of the most high value consumers are not excluded from your media buying, based on arbitrary gaps in analytics and attribution. This is crucial to accurate attribution and to ensure advertisers reflect accurately on the financial impact of their advertising campaigns on product sales. Sub2’s sole focus is to enable clients to accurately achieve this outcome so that budgets are deployed as effectively as they can be.
Please speak to your Sub2 contact about how these changes may affect you and how to stay ahead of the game.