Karen Stocks
Dec 15, 2022

The future of measurement is here — but don’t expect a silver bullet

Google's VP of global measurment solutions says marketers are mistaken to think there will be a one-stop-shop solution to replace third-party cookies.

The future of measurement is here — but don’t expect a silver bullet

Measurement has become increasingly important as the industry continues to evolve. More than ever, it’s important for marketers to remember that the effectiveness of their investments start and end with measurement.

Though measurement has always been important to a successful strategy, it often operated in the background. Recently, we’ve seen hesitation and concern around the future of measurement and how marketers are going to prove the effectiveness of their campaigns. And, where there is change, uncertainty is sure to follow.

But it’s time for advertisers to put hesitation aside and embrace the new world of measurement.

Take action

Measurement used to just — at the risk of oversimplifying — happen. For years, technologies like third-party cookies would run in the background, providing marketers with, frankly, a very in-depth look at how people moved across the internet. Actions were automatically captured and stored in perpetuity for marketers to access at their leisure. In other words, strategies were far less deliberate. 

Customers are at the heart, and when their expectations change, ours must too — meaning that marketers now have access to far less data by default.

What we haven’t expected — but continue to hear from CMOs — is that marketers think there will be a one-stop-shop solution to replace third-party cookies. I’m here to tell you that it is not coming, and if you’re waiting for it, you are going to be disappointed. Marketers are also waiting until it’s mission critical to get emergency funding to solve for data loss.

Let me be very clear: there is no silver bullet. You cannot and should not wait.

Be intentional

If you take anything away from this article, it should be this: be intentional about your measurement strategy. We see marketers get distracted and overwhelmed by the vast amount of solutions in the marketplace and lose focus of the greater goal. But the goal is where they need to start.

It may sound obvious, but more often than not, marketers don’t take the time to determine what success looks like — to outline the most important KPIs. Because measurement used to just “happen,” we could be retrospective, giving measurement strategies more breathing room and flexibility.

Today, it’s essential to be clear about your goals upfront. This is not a bad thing; it’s an opportunity to truly understand and establish what success looks like for your business.

You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again. First-party data is critical in the new world of measurement. You need to ensure you’re capturing the right data — and only that data — from consumers. Be intentional, thoughtful and respectful when you determine which data to capture.

With an intentional first-party data strategy setup, new measurement opportunities will be available. To reiterate, there is no silver bullet, but with a core set of solutions, you will achieve the same results.

Focus on value

Value-centric measurement allows marketers to not only capture conversions, but build a more complete strategy around value accordingly. Optimization through value-based bidding, for example, allows marketers to focus their spend on more valuable customers.

We often hear that automation is a slightly alarming word. It’s conflated with the idea of lost jobs and control. It’s time to rethink that framing, especially as it relates to measurement. You are still the driver of your strategy, but once you’ve thoughtfully determined what you want to measure and the value of those interactions, let the machines do the work. Customer journeys are changing so frequently that humans can’t keep track, so let machine learning help you where it can.

Through solutions like tagging, Google’s enhanced conversions and data-driven attribution, marketers can set intentional, focused strategies to understand the impact of their marketing dollars.

Checks and balances

Once you have set the pieces in motion, don’t forget the critical step of validating solutions and adjusting where necessary —  and, of course, ensuring that they meet the highest bar for privacy.

Marketing mix models and incrementality studies allow marketers to validate and calibrate their measurement strategies, making sure that solutions like automation and modeling are working as best as possible.

Your strategy isn’t the only thing that needs checking, though. At this point, privacy should be table stakes — but that doesn’t mean you can take any shortcuts. Check that your partners meet or exceed your privacy requirements, especially with respect to capturing first-party data.

It’s now or never

Sometimes, clichés are true: there is no time like the present. If you are not investing in your measurement strategy now, you will be at a competitive disadvantage.

Don’t let measurement be tomorrow's problem. Remember that customer expectations for privacy have already shifted — and we must evolve to meet them.

Karen Stocks is VP, global measurement solutions at Google.

Campaign US

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