Google’s 2024 Ad Measurement Plan: Unlocking Success in a Privacy-First Future

Google is making key changes to ad measurement and privacy plans in 2024. Discover how these changes will affect your ability to track campaign performance, target audiences, and optimise campaigns.

The PPC landscape is on the cusp of a significant transformation driven by a wave of regulations. This necessitates a significant evolution in Google’s ad measurement products and the broader PPC ecosystem. Advertisers must adapt to thrive in this new era, as privacy becomes more important than ever.

Announcing their ad measurement and privacy plans for 2024, Google wrote in a blog, “As a part of Google’s ongoing commitment to a privacy-centric digital advertising ecosystem, we are strengthening the enforcement of our EU user consent policy. Advertisers must adhere to the EU consent policy to use ad personalisation.”

Google’s enforcement action will impact measurement features and apply to data from:

  • Websites: Tags that send data to Google.
  • Apps: SDKs that send data to Google.
  • Data uploads: Tools to upload data from non-Google sources, such as offline conversion imports or store sales.

To maintain access to measurement, ad personalisation, and remarketing features, you must now obtain user consent for the use of Google Ads in the European Economic Area (EEA). This involves collecting and sharing clear consent signals with Google.

Taking Action Now: Embracing the Future of Ad Measurement

The landscape of ad measurement is evolving rapidly, driven by privacy regulations and advancements in technology. 

Here are some key actions suggested by Google’s Ads Product Liaison, Ginny Marvin, that you can take right now to ensure you’re maintaining effective ad measurement in 2024 and beyond. Let’s delve into each of these actions and explore how they can empower your PPC success in the cookieless future.

Sitewide Tagging

Sitewide tagging is the crucial first step to understanding how your website performs. Let’s delve into why it’s important and how to ensure it’s implemented correctly.

Why Sitewide Tagging Matters:

  • Accurate Conversion Tracking: Imagine missing out on valuable data because crucial tracking wasn’t set up! Sitewide tagging ensures every page captures user actions, giving you a holistic view of conversions across your entire website.
  • Informed Marketing Decisions: Without proper conversion data, you’re flying blind. Sitewide tagging provides the insights you need to optimise campaigns, identify high-performing content, and make data-driven marketing decisions.
  • Privacy-Centric Measurement: In today’s privacy-focused landscape, sitewide tagging with first-party cookies offers a reliable way to measure conversions while respecting user privacy.

Getting Started with Sitewide Tagging:

There are two main options to achieve sitewide tagging:

  • Google Tag: This is a simple Javascript snippet that you add to every page of your website. It allows you to implement various tracking tools from Google.
  • Google Tag Manager: A more advanced option, Google Tag Manager acts as a container for all your website’s tags. It offers greater flexibility, allowing you to manage and deploy different tags without modifying your website code directly.

Verifying Your Tagging Setup:

Once you’ve implemented sitewide tagging, here’s how to ensure it’s capturing data correctly:

  • Conversion Tracking Status: Within Google Analytics, navigate to “Goals > Conversions > Summary.” Check the ‘Status’ column for each conversion action. A green checkmark indicates proper tracking, while a red ‘X’ signifies potential issues.
  • Tag Assistant: Leverage Google Tag Assistant, a free browser extension, to identify any errors or missing tags on your website. It helps diagnose tagging problems and streamlines the troubleshooting process.

With a robust sitewide tagging system in place, you’ve built a solid foundation for website measurement. 

Now you can start layering on additional analytics tools and strategies to gain even deeper insights into user behaviour and optimise your website for success.

First-Party Data

Third-party cookies are fading away, and a reliance on external data sources is becoming increasingly unreliable. This is where first-party data – the information you collect directly from your customers with their consent – takes centre stage. 

What value can you offer your customers in exchange for their data? Here’s where creativity comes in. Consider enticing offers like:

  • Early access to new products or exclusive discounts
  • Personalised content and recommendations
  • Loyalty programs with rewards and benefits

By providing value, you encourage customers to share their data willingly, ultimately leading to:

  • Stronger Customer Relationships: Deeper understanding of your customer base fosters better engagement and loyalty.
  • Improved Customer Lifetime Value: Tailored experiences and offerings keep customers coming back for more.
  • Expanded Customer Base: Satisfied customers become brand advocates, attracting new customers organically.

First-Party Data: Powerful Advertising & Measurement

Building a robust first-party data strategy empowers you to unlock a world of advertising and measurement possibilities:

  • Enhanced Audience Targeting: Leverage Customer Match lists within Google Ads, allowing you to target existing customers or similar audiences for highly relevant ads.
  • Advanced Audience Modeling & Remarketing: Utilise your first-party data to create custom audience segments and refine your remarketing strategies for maximum impact.
  • Unified Customer View: Connect your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Customer Data Platform (CDP) with Google’s advertising and analytics tools (Google Ads, Google Analytics 4, Campaign Manager 360, Search Ads 360). This creates a holistic view of customer behaviour across all touchpoints.
  • The Power of AI: When combined with first-party data, AI can enable advanced solutions like conversion modelling, predictive targeting, and powerful analytics, even in scenarios with limited user-level data.

The Future of Measurement with Google Ads Data Manager

The future of data-driven advertising is all about utilising your own customer data effectively. Google Ads Data Manager, a new tool rolling out this quarter, simplifies this process by allowing you to seamlessly connect and leverage your:

  • Customer Match Lists: Target existing customers or similar audiences.
  • Offline Conversions & Leads: Track the impact of offline marketing efforts.
  • Store Sales Data: Gain insights into in-store purchase behaviour.
  • App Data: Understand user engagement within your app.

By accessing Data Manager within the “Tools” section of your Google Ads account, you can unlock a wealth of customer insights to inform smarter advertising strategies and drive measurable results.

Enhanced Conversions

A changing privacy landscape makes it increasingly difficult to track user journeys across devices and touchpoints. Traditional website tags alone may not provide a complete picture of how your ads drive conversions.

Enhanced Conversions is a Google Ads and GA4 feature that offers a more accurate and privacy-safe way to measure conversions. Here’s how it works:

  • Hashed User Data: User-provided data (like email addresses) from your website is securely hashed and sent to Google.
  • Privacy-Preserving Matching: This hashed data is then matched to signed-in Google accounts, attributing sales from Google Search and YouTube ads while protecting user privacy.
  • Aggregated Insights: You gain a more comprehensive view of conversions, including post-view interactions and cross-device activity.

Top 3 Benefits Of Enhanced Conversions

  • Stronger Conversion Modelling: Enhanced conversions provide richer data, allowing for more accurate conversion modelling and a clearer understanding of your advertising's impact.
  • Smarter Bidding: With a more complete picture of conversion paths, Smart Bidding can make better decisions to optimise your campaigns for conversions.
  • Comprehensive Measurement: Enhanced conversions work with both Google Ads and GA4, allowing you to measure paid search, organic traffic, and other channels in a unified way.

Two Types of Enhanced Conversions:

Enhanced Conversions for Web: Available in both Google Ads and GA4, this method utilises user data for conversion measurement and additional insights like demographics and interests.

  • Use Google Ads for: Conversion actions already set up in Google Ads.
  • Use GA4 for: Cross-channel conversion measurement within GA4.
  • Double-Counting Alert: If using both platforms, ensure you're not including the same conversion action twice in your reports.
  • Setup Resources: Find detailed instructions for setting up enhanced conversions for the web in Google Ads or GA4.

Enhanced Conversions for Leads: Ideal for tracking offline conversions, this approach allows you to upload hashed lead data (e.g., email addresses) directly into Google Ads.

  • Upgrade from Offline Conversion Imports: If you currently use offline conversion imports, consider switching to enhanced conversions for leads.
  • No More GCLID Hassle: Unlike traditional methods, you don't need to modify your lead forms or CRM to include a Google Click ID.
  • Privacy-Focused Measurement: Enhanced conversions for leads utilises existing user information for conversion tracking while safeguarding user privacy.
  • Multiple Setup Options: Utilise Google Tag, Google Tag Manager, or the Google Ads API for flexible implementation. Configure everything directly within your Google Ads account.
  • Setup and Policy Resources: Learn more about setting up enhanced conversions for leads and any associated policy requirements (link to be provided by you).

Enhanced conversions is a powerful tool for advertisers navigating the evolving privacy landscape. By providing a more complete and privacy-friendly view of conversions, it empowers you to optimise your advertising campaigns for better results.

Consent Mode 

New data privacy regulations and evolving user expectations require advertisers to navigate the complexities of consent. Inaccurate conversion measurement can occur if user consent choices aren’t properly communicated to Google.

Enter Consent Mode (v2), a crucial tool for ensuring accurate conversion measurement while respecting user privacy. Here’s how it’s beneficial:

  • Respecting User Choice: Consent mode acts as a bridge, transmitting your users' consent choices regarding data collection to Google. This empowers users to control how their data is used for ad personalisation and remarketing.
  • Compliance and Enforcement: With stricter enforcement of the EU user consent policy in the EEA and UK, implementing consent mode (v2) is becoming increasingly important.

Key Updates in Consent Mode (v2)

  • Granular Consent Signals: The new ad_user_data and ad_personalisation parameters allow for more precise control over user consent for personalised ads and remarketing campaigns.
  • Future-Proof Your Campaigns: If you don’t upgrade to v2, you’ll lose the ability to personalise ads and conduct remarketing for users who haven’t provided consent. To maintain measurement capabilities, implementing consent mode by year-end 2024 is crucial.
  • Maintaining Measurement & Performance: Consent mode enables conversion tracking for users who grant consent.  For those who don't, conversion modelling helps estimate conversion activity, ensuring a comprehensive view of campaign performance.
  • Google Ads Conversion Diagnostics: Keep an eye on the ‘Conversion Diagnostics’ tab within Google Ads. Here, you’ll see how conversion modelling is impacting your campaigns at the “domain x country level” once thresholds are met.
  • Global Google Ads Notification: You might have received a notification in Google Ads prompting you to review your consent settings.  This underscores the importance of checking your ‘Google Services’ selection within your account to ensure it's configured to receive consent-labelled data.

Configure all relevant Google services to accept consent-labelled data to optimise campaign performance and navigate the evolving privacy landscape with confidence.

By actively managing consent and implementing Consent Mode (v2), you can ensure accurate measurement and maintain campaign effectiveness in a privacy-focused advertising environment.

Conversion Modelling

Conversion tracking has always been a cornerstone of successful advertising campaigns. However, the evolving privacy landscape, with the decline of cookies and device identifiers, presents new challenges. 

This is where conversion modelling steps in, a powerful tool that leverages AI and machine learning to paint a more complete picture of your campaign performance.

Understanding the Gaps

Conversion modelling addresses the issue of unobservable conversions. These are conversions that occur after an ad interaction but cannot be directly linked back to the ad due to privacy limitations. Conversion modelling bridges this gap by analysing a combination of data sources:

  • First-party data: Valuable insights you collect directly from your website or app.
  • Platform APIs: Data provided by platforms like Apple’s SKAdNetwork and Chrome’s Privacy Sandbox Attribution Reporting API, designed with privacy in mind.
  • Similar User Datasets: Aggregated anonymised data that shares characteristics with users who interact with your ads.

How Does Conversion Modelling Work?

  • Classifying Conversions: Conversions are categorised into two groups: observable (directly linked to an ad) and unobservable (missing a clear link).
  • Identifying Patterns: The model analyses the observable group, looking for common traits and user behaviours.
  • Predicting the Unseen: Based on these patterns, the model estimates the total number of conversions that likely occurred across all users, including those in the unobservable category.

Ensuring Accuracy:

Rigorous quality checks are crucial. Google employs a holdback group – a portion of traffic where actual conversions are tracked. By comparing modelled conversions to observed conversions in this group, Google validates the accuracy of the model and fine-tunes it for optimal performance.

Optimising Your Conversion Modelling:

The more observable conversions you capture, the stronger the foundation for your model. Here are key strategies:

  • Solid Conversion Tracking: Ensure proper setup with Google Tag or Tag Manager for accurate conversion measurement.
  • Enhanced Conversions: Leverage enhanced conversions for web to recover additional conversions, especially relevant for advertisers impacted by Apple's ITP.
  • Consent Mode: If applicable to your region's regulations, use consent mode to understand how user consent choices affect measurement.
  • On-Device Conversion Measurement: Utilise this solution for privacy-conscious tracking of app installs and in-app conversions.
  • Data-Driven Attribution: This attribution model analyses user journeys and conversion patterns to optimise credit distribution for contributing ad interactions. By switching to data-driven attribution, advertisers typically see a 6% increase in conversions on average.

Conversion modelling empowers advertisers to navigate the privacy-first landscape without sacrificing campaign performance. By implementing the strategies outlined above, you can ensure that your conversion data remains robust, enabling you to make data-driven decisions and optimise your advertising efforts for success.

Marketing Mix Modelling

The digital advertising landscape is undergoing a significant shift, with the sunsetting of third-party cookies impacting how marketers measure campaign performance.  

CMOs are increasingly turning to Marketing Mix Modelling (MMM) as a robust and privacy-friendly alternative.

The Rise of MMM

While MMM isn’t a new concept, its resurgence is fueled by two key factors:

  • Privacy-Centric Approach: Unlike traditional methods reliant on individual user data, MMM aggregates data at a holistic level, respecting user privacy while still providing valuable insights.
  • Accessibility for Data-Driven Businesses: As companies prioritise first-party data collection, MMM becomes a more viable option due to its reliance on this rich internal data source.

Introducing Meridian: An Open-Source Solution

To empower marketers with greater control and flexibility in the evolving measurement landscape, we've launched Meridian, an open-source MMM tool. This innovative solution offers several advantages:

  • Customisation: Advertisers can choose to use Meridian “as is,” extend its functionalities, or selectively incorporate specific methodologies that best suit their needs.
  • Enhanced Measurement Capabilities: Meridian offers three core functionalities to address key measurement challenges:
  • Video Measurement: Model video campaign reach and frequency for a clearer understanding of their impact.
  • Lower Funnel Measurement: Factor in organic search volume to provide a more accurate picture of lower funnel conversions.
  • Model Calibration: Integrate incrementality experiments across channels to ensure the accuracy of your MMMs.

While Meridian is currently in closed beta, all qualified non-Meridian MMM users now have unrestricted access to these three methodologies. This allows them to immediately integrate these valuable tools into their existing models.

The time to act is now! Developing a durable, future-proof, and privacy-first measurement plan is critical for navigating the changing landscape. This plan should not only address the current cookie deprecation but also be adaptable to future disruptions.

Need a fresh perspective? Let’s talk.

At 360 OM, we specialise in helping businesses take their marketing efforts to the next level. Our team stays on top of industry trends, uses data-informed decisions to maximise your ROI, and provides full transparency through comprehensive reports.

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