Robin Langford
Mar 11, 2024

Google enters the MMM game: Meridian helps marketers find their own 'North Star' metrics

Open source solution will measure the holistic impact of marketing efforts across channels – letting users change the code and model parameters to suit their unique business needs.

Google enters the MMM game: Meridian helps marketers find their own 'North Star' metrics

Google has launched “Meridian”, an open source tool that uses marketing mix modelling (MMM) to help marketers find better user measurement alternatives to its soon-to-be-defunct Chrome tracking cookie.

The solution is currently available to select users, but the tech giant plans to make it accessible to all marketers and data scientists in the near future.

The practice of MMM takes a mathematical approach to measuring true impact, with calculations that measure sales impact based on reach, response and more to connect marketing metrics to wider business goals such as sales or market value.

According to a Google study conducted with Kantar, 60% of US advertisers are currently using MMMs, and 58% of those not using these models are considering doing so in the future. The move also puts Google in direct competition with Meta’s own MMM, Robyn, which launched in 2022.

Finding your North Star metrics

“MMMs today are not perfect, but are evolving,” said Harikesh Nair, Senior Director, Data Science at Google. “With Meridian, we look to help your team navigate toward your future North Star, both through innovation, and by sharing our data in conjunction with an open source model. We welcome everyone to join us in this effort.”

Unlike many existing MMM solutions, Meridian will include YouTube reach and frequency metrics alongside indexed Google query-volume data.

Users will be able to run scenario and budget planning alongside future cross-channel forecasting for budget and contribution. Google will also provide educational resources and technical FAQs for troubleshooting.

Nair was also quick to point out that Meridian is “privacy-durable”, complying with relevant privacy laws and clauses across regions.

'Modelling clay' to build upon

Being open source, Google also assures users that the Meridian methodology will be transparent: “Meridian is designed to give the user control as any modeller is fully empowered to change the code and model parameters to meet their unique business needs,” Google stated in a launch blog. “Think of Meridian as modelling clay: a starting point that allows users to iterate and develop further.”

Typically, MMMs are viewed as costly, time consuming and require specific data analysis skills compared to other analytics methods such as GA4. Google is hoping Meridian will offer a more accessible and adaptable way to measure campaign performance than existing models, while complying with the need for more privacy safe tracking methods.

'The inclusion of both reach and frequency introduces an exciting concept'

Niall Oulton, Director of Marketing Analytics at PyMC Labs, a consulting firm specialising in data analysis and predictive modelling, said the launch of Meridian could invigorate an industry “historically dominated by expensive consultancies with opaque ‘black-box’ solutions”.

“Marketers should be aware that if they haven't already, they should consider moving away from largely inaccurate attribution-based measurement approaches of marketing,” he added.

Oulton saw the inclusion of reach and frequency data points as a significant addition to Meridian’s offering that could differentiate it from other solutions. “Marketing Mix Models have been somewhat limited as they generally focus on the concept of including reach through the estimation of diminishing returns. [Meridian’s] inclusion of both reach and frequency introduces an exciting concept, allowing planners to use their marketing strategies not only to decide how much they should invest but also how often they should expose their target audience to multiple exposures.”

One area where Meridian falls short, in Oulton’s view, is the lack of time-varying impacts of marketing within Meridian and if the solution is fully open source. He said: “We know that the effectiveness of marketing can vary depending on the time of year, seasonal influences, or the changing dynamics of marketing impacts.

“Additionally, I'm curious about its level of openness and the extent to which Meridian will evolve into truly open-source software. Currently, it seems to be a closed book, accessible only to a select, approved few (for now).”

Google’s Meridian MMM is currently in limited availability. You can apply for access here.

Campaign Asia

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