In this episode of In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris discuss recent privacy changes, iOS 14.5, why Google wasn’t freaking out like Facebook was, and how Google can promise to intelligently append/fill in missing third-party data where other adtech platforms cannot. Find out why you’ll be spending more money in Google Ads in the coming years, and what you should do to prepare.
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What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.
Christopher Penn 0:02
This is In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast.
In this week’s in In-Ear, Insights, let’s talk about Google Analytics, the third party data that it consumes right now, and the end of the third party cookie.
So we’ve been talking a lot about the end of the third party cookie enhanced privacy stuff.
And Google has announced recently, may 13, that they’ve got some solutions for marketers who are concerned about the data loss.
If you’ve ever been in Google Analytics, you’ve seen things like audience demographics, and your interests and stuff like that.
And all that comes from Google’s double click network.
Obviously, with the reduction of reliance on third party cookies, some of that we all feared was going to go away.
But now Google says, Hey, don’t worry about it, we’ve got you covered.
Anytime you have missing data, because of privacy stuff, it’s gonna use its own machine learning to essentially impute or guess what that data was based on on behavior.
So Katie, should be no surprise that Google has managed to use machine learning and AI to fill in the blanks.
How do you feel about that, as a marketer, as somebody who’s like, okay, I rely on Google Analytics data to make good decisions.
And now, this is, this is saying, you know, you’re gonna at least be making educated guesses about 30% of it.
Katie Robbert 1:28
Well, I, anytime you say to me, Chris, that the methodology was imputation, aka guessing, that makes me nervous.
Because I feel like, yes, even with advanced AI and machine learning, you’re still guessing at what the data should be.
And that, to me is problematic.
Now, you know, we could argue, you know, down the rabbit hole of what that actually means, but sort of at a surface level for people to understand, it’s basically taking the information that it already knows about the majority of the data set, and then, you know, basically inferring the rest of it.
And so yeah, it makes me a little bit nervous, especially if you’re relying on that data for targeting your ads or target trying to put together your personas because you could be wrong and spending money incorrectly.
I guess, does this extend to things like Google surveys, for example.
So with Google surveys, you can choose a market segment, you can specify demographics that you want to target, you want to target people in a certain state or people of a certain age range? I would imagine that this extends to that as well, since it’s all part of the Google Marketing Platform.
You know, I think I think that it could be potentially problematic.
I think that as a marketer, I should be concerned about the limited amount of valid data that Google’s able to provide to me that was actually collected from people and not just guessed that
Christopher Penn 3:08
I feel more comfortable with Google doing this than with other ad tech vendors, because they have the infrastructure to support it, and have better signals.
So we all know and don’t love Facebook.
We know that they have relatively limited insight, right? They have the Facebook app on your phone, which is obviously for iOS users has been severely restricted for the last few weeks.
And they have the Facebook social network where we all go to complain.
That’s about it.
They also have WhatsApp as well.
Google has Google ad network.
It has Google ads.
It has Google Analytics, which they have persuaded millions of websites around the planet since 2005, to install on their sites, and Tag Manager and all the solutions we recommend to clients all the time.
They have the Chrome browser, the Android operating system, they have Gmail.
So they have many, many, many more hooks into the audience than any other comparable ad tech bread.
So I would feel I feel personally feel more comfortable with their ability to do imputation with a much larger data set than I would say, with Facebook, which may not have as much data and certainly would be relying on data that I would actually see as disallowable data like gender, for example, or race.
So from an accuracy perspective, I feel more comfortable with Google than others.
But I do think it raises a very interesting and complex challenge for marketers who are using systems other than Google Analytics, if Google Analytics has to rely on its machine learning data from the rest of the Google properties to make decisions.
What does that say about something like Adobe analytics, you know, Omniture, Adobe does not have that same kind of technological footprint.
Nobody has the hooks except for Amazon.
Nobody else has their books to quite as much your life as As Google does, you know, matomo, and the open source platforms, all these other you know, I love these ads that we see on social media, Gale, Google Analytics is always like, No, no, it’s not.
Google has more data than you ever will.
And so I would be more concerned about companies and clients and said that don’t use Google Analytics at this point.
Katie Robbert 5:20
know, it, as you were mentioning that, you know, where Google has its hooks into all of these different things.
What strikes me and this sort of harkens back to my clinical trial roots is we’re also dependent on the self report, report data.
So Google’s getting its data from people who are using these things.
But how can we validate that people are being honest and truthful when they’re setting up accounts? So you know, not to sort of call you out.
But a little bit, Chris, you know, one of the things that I know you do, and that actually a lot of people in your circle do is you don’t put your true birthday, in any one platform.
And so each platform has a slightly different set of information about you, which is fine for you as the user because you then know who’s selling your data, or you know, those kinds of things, but as the market Oh, who’s reliant on that information, to then do my own marketing? Well, none of the data is correct.
And so that, to me, starts to raise the eyebrow of like, okay, so Google has their hooks into all of these different things that you’ve listed.
But just like in a clinical trial, or in a medical setting, you are only as good as the patient reporting information.
And if the patient, and in this case, the audience is not being truthful, or reporting all of the information, you’re still at a disadvantage.
So you might have, you know, mass quantities of data.
But how much of that is actually incorrect.
And I think that you bringing up the other competitors to Google Analytics is an interesting piece of the conversation, because there are those larger enterprise companies that are using Adobe and have it so sort of so ingrained into their DNA, that moving away from it is going to be difficult, but then you start to see that they are at a disadvantage with their marketing, because they don’t have that same amount of information.
Christopher Penn 7:18
I think that’s, that’s the heart of it is that if you, as much as it is uncomfortable to be so heavily reliant on one technology company, if you want the best data going forward, in a more restrictive privacy environment, you’re going to have to rely on behavioral data and things.
And you got to rely on the instrumentation that you’re an AI first company, with its hooks into everything can deliver.
So your choices really are like Amazon, because Amazon knows where you live.
And you raise a good point about love the self recorded data.
And that’s one of the reasons why we’ve been saying forever, don’t rely on self reported data, look at the behavioral data, like I don’t have a browser agent set up to randomly cruise websites to, you know, to throw off a company’s tracking, I just surf the web, normally.
I may have like 40 different profiles in my Chrome browser.
But essentially, I don’t have the time and the energy.
And the resource is available to spend all of my time, you know, trying to spike or poison someone’s algorithm, I just got to get my work done.
And so even though I may say, some of the demographic and factual data is incorrect, you don’t need to use that for decision making.
You can say, Okay, well, you’ve been to these 22 sites, all of which have Google Analytics, and we can infer then that you are this type of type of users.
So we’ll show you these kinds of ads.
I’ve that I’m less concerned about that.
In terms of analytics accuracy, I do think that everyone has to have a serious conversation about a Are you using Google Analytics, even as a backup, like if you’re an Adobe shop, I think that’s fine.
I wouldn’t be running one or more systems in parallel.
And two, when it comes to your Google Analytics install, I I firmly believe we know Google has stopped development, a Google Analytics three, they have said so in no uncertain terms, if you have not at least set up Google Analytics for and a habit collecting data, I think you’re setting yourself up to be at a disadvantage.
Katie Robbert 9:24
I agree with that.
And I think that, you know, anyone who’s not even using a web tracking system, is that a serious disadvantage even more so.
But that’s a topic for another show.
You know, it.
It’s interesting, you know, when I start to when I really try to take a step back and put myself in the shoes of, you know, someone who might just be starting in their career as a marketer or just sort of trying to wrap their head around everything that’s going on.
There’s a lot of information around Mar tech stacks that you know what you need to do this and you need You do this and you need to do this.
And it can get overwhelming.
And then all the systems don’t play nicely together.
And the point that I’m trying to come to is, you know, when you think about where to actually start, you need to start with the foundational material.
So CRM, it’s nice.
But theoretically, you could keep all of that information as spreadsheet, it’s not the best option.
But you don’t need a system.
In order to capture that information.
You do need a system in order to understand what’s happening on your website, because you can’t just look at it and go, I know that 500 people visited my website today, you need that foundational piece.
And that foundational piece should be Google Analytics.
Again, Chris, your point it can be Adobe or my Moto, but you should be running something else as backup, we run moto as a backup to Google Analytics, just in case.
Am I saying that correctly? My Moto G ELMo matomo.
AI, so I gave a webinar last week, and I’m pretty sure I said the same thing on it.
But nobody on the webinar knew enough to correct me on it.
So that’s, here we are.
It’s just a day.
Christopher Penn 11:14
Yeah, no, I think you’re right.
And you know, even just within the Google ecosystem, you know, making sure you’re running Google Analytics for even if you’ve done nothing, except to set it up just having it there and collecting data.
So that I mean, Google has said in a any blog post on Google’s blog, okay, we’re using this to surface new new insights? Well, okay, that means if you’re using Google ads, and you’ve got Google Analytics, you should probably have both versions running and connected to your Google Ads account so that you’re feeding at the appropriate data.
Because I would struggle to believe that Google is not taking Google Analytics for data into account, if you’ve intentionally linked it in, in the two systems, there’s no reason to link them if they’re not passing data back and forth to each other.
So you want the best data available going to each of these systems.
And if you don’t have ga four, I think you’re at a disadvantage.
Katie Robbert 12:06
I agree with that.
Um, you know, we’re talking the the question that we’re trying to answer is, you know, what happens when that third party data starts to dissipate or when not as much of it is available? So what we’re talking about is that behavioral data, when we’re talking about behavioral data, you know, it can be pretty widely open to interpretation.
But in this particular context, what we’re talking about is people’s behavior on the internet, or people’s behavior, with your web properties that you know, that being your blog, your website, your, you know, whatever things you have on the internet for people to interact with.
And I’m wondering, you know, if someone is concerned that they’re not going to get enough data from Google Analytics, for example, about someone’s behavior, about their customers behavior? Can you supplement that? well enough, by doing your own market research? Is it you know, a one for one swap? I would argue, not really, because to in order to get the volume of data that something like a Google Analytics can collect without you intervening at all, you would have to spend basically the rest of your life trying to find people, number one, to participate.
Number two, make sure you have a validated, you know, research plan.
And number three, collect and analyze the data, but then you’re always falling behind.
Because we’re Google’s collecting this in near real time.
you’re collecting this, and then, you know, you’re you’re not getting it all in real time.
And, you know, I do feel like I’m sort of a little bit rambling today.
But I’m trying to just sort of wrap my head around as a marketer.
If I don’t have the behavioral data in Google Analytics, or if I don’t feel confident in that behavioral data, where else can I go to get it? And unfortunately, Google, Google has set themselves up in such a way that you can’t, you’re relying on them to provide it.
And that just like, you can sort of see the smoke coming out of my ears.
It’s like my mind is blown by this.
Christopher Penn 14:25
You’re absolutely right.
And it goes back to what you were saying earlier, which is with market research, that is self reported data, right? You’re asking people to take surveys and things like that, and it’s unless you’re providing contracts with your market research panels.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t do market research, because you absolutely should.
But to your point, it’s very difficult to overcome the technological advantage I was looking at out of curiosity here and I’ll show this for those watching on YouTube or other channels.
You can see this.
For those listening to the audio.
I’ll just read it out loud.
This is the browser market share worldwide as of 2021, the number one browser in the world is chrome 64% of the market Safari, which is Apple’s iOS, Apple’s browsers 18% of the market, Firefox 3.6%.
So when Firefox and Safari have said, third party cookies, they’re done.
Okay, that’s about 2120 a huge percent of the market there.
Google is saying next year, in 20 22/3, party cookies are done 64% of the market.
So now you’re talking about 90% of the market, there’s, you will not have that cookie data.
But what I think is fascinating is this, that we know that Chrome transmits data back to Google, right, so 64% of the market is using Chrome, then the end of third party cookies doesn’t really bother them, right, because they have the data, they know where you’re browsing.
And they even the Electronic Frontier Foundation was talking about, there’s gonna be some new advertising features in future versions, Chrome that will aggregate data and allow them to do targeting on that.
So to your point, Katie 64% of the market is, is being run by Google, right in terms of the browser share.
So combine that with Gmail with your Google Home, your smart assistant, your, the, you know, hey, Google, on your phone, and stuff like that, there’s a lot of different touch points where Google can complete can fill in the blanks, from an amputation perspective that nobody else can.
And this chart, by the way, is also why Facebook is so so uncomfortable, because they know they can’t get the data out of Google, right? And now with Apple saying, Safari browsers, hey, we’re not gonna attract you there either.
Okay, Facebook has effectively been squeezed out of 90% of the market right there.
They’re out of the picture.
So for them, it’s very, very challenging.
To try and recover this day, they have to rely just on what people put on there.
And certainly we’ve seen from, oh, I don’t know, all recent events, that what people post on Facebook or share there isn’t necessarily true.
Katie Robbert 16:52
It’s actually Facebook is maybe the worst place in order to understand what people’s true opinions and behaviors and demographics are the other, you know, and this is sort of getting a little bit more technical.
The other consideration, Chris, especially if you’re trying to target people geographically is whether or not their IP address is set up for where they actually live.
So one of the things I know, one of the challenges we have with our Google Analytics is that your IP is constantly rotating.
So I can’t filter it out from our data, because it’s not static.
And I think that that’s becoming more of the norm, where someone might VPN, in order to protect.
And VPN is what virtual private network is, okay, virtual private network.
So basically, you can VPN into some, like you could VPN into Switzerland, and then be running your intranet from there.
And the like, the internet, or whoever’s tracking has no way of saying they’re not really in Switzerland, they’re really in Massachusetts.
And so that is going to cause challenges for, you know, targeting and behavior as well, because more people are starting to get savvy about privacy with, there’s still a long way to go.
But as you know, iOS 14, and all of these other things are happening, people are getting more savvy about, oh, wait a second.
I don’t want you actually collecting all of my data.
When I’m agreeing to this thing.
What am I actually agreeing to? Let me read it first.
And I think that will continue to create more challenges for marketers.
But Chris, if I’m following what you’re saying, Google’s not worried.
Christopher Penn 18:36
Google’s not worried.
So this is my VPN, I have 6000 different exit points around the planet that I could I could exit from and appear in different countries.
Believe it or not, kids use these a ton of this one is like 495 a month, it’s super cheap.
Why? Because there’s some videos on YouTube and Netflix that you can’t watch unless you’re in that region.
And so you’ll VPN into Canada or to the UK to watch a show or a video that you can’t see it wherever it is you’re located.
And so people are VPN using VPN is not for to you know, avoid the the conspiracy theories sort of things, though.
They’re just doing it to watch videos.
But to your point, it’s having an impact.
Because once you turn this thing, I tend to forget that it’s on.
And it’s bouncing around the planet, and all sorts of different places.
So that does raise a tracking challenge, because like, Yeah, do you actually know where this person is? Last week’s live stream we were talking about? The new starlink product, which will allow you to get Satellite Internet from anywhere on the planet.
Who is this person? Now? The way Google gets around that? Of course, no surprise here, even my VPN on if I’m using my Chrome browser profile, guess what I’ve just told Google, here’s where I am now.
And Google’s like you move around a lot.
But we still know it’s you.
Because you have not signed out.
And oh yeah, by the way your browser’s cookie too.
So unless you’re using Safari or another browser in incognito mode, they still know who you are.
Katie Robbert 20:00
Oh, yeah, well, and I think that that’s the thing.
And so it’s not, you know, the the takeaway shouldn’t be, you know, get off of all of Google properties because they know who you are.
The takeaway should really be as a marketer, if you’re concerned about the behavioral data, the third party data that Google is getting from the audience in order to round out your view of who people are and what they’re doing.
Don’t be too concerned, if you’re using other systems like Adobe, or matomo, Nakamoto.
Or if you’re relying on Facebook Audience Insights, for example, to figure out who people are, you should start creating your backup plan, because those systems aren’t going to have the same kind of rich data that you can get from a Google Analytics or a Google surveys or really anything in the Google Marketing Platform.
Because Chris has you outlined, Google has a really, really, really big digital footprint that nobody else is really going to come close to.
You mentioned Amazon.
But Amazon doesn’t do what Google does in terms of website analytics for marketers.
And so you can’t say that, Oh, well just get my data from Amazon, instead, that’s not going to be a thing.
Amazon’s not going to give you anything.
Christopher Penn 21:16
And Amazon has no interest in helping advertisers in a lot of ways, right, they want to help themselves, they want to sell more stuff through them.
Whereas Google doesn’t sell a whole lot to the end consumer, Google sells a ton to advertisers.
And so the other thing I would say there is, and we’ve seen this, too, is if you’ve got ad budget earmarked for you know the coming months, in two years, you’re going to need to earmark more of it for Google because as privacy restrictions clamped down, it will be kind of a Darwinian, whose ad tech systems will deliver the best results.
Who that will be will be who has the best data and delivers the best ROI, which means that you’re probably going to be on Google using Google Ads at some point.
And you’re probably going to need to spend more, because there’ll be a lot of competition to get access to the inventory, that still works.
The other alternative is, again, what we talked about on previous episodes, which is you may have to start doing the hard work of going direct to certain publishers, like if you know, from your market research, like we were talking about earlier, that everybody in your audience or all your best customers spend time on, I don’t know, Travel and Leisure magazine, you can approach them directly and say, Hey, we just want to run some house inventory ads with you directly.
We don’t want to use an ad network because we can’t afford it.
What does it cost to, to do this? If you’re a publisher? If you have a popular blog, or popular website, or popular YouTube channel, give some thought to? If you haven’t already, what does it look like to introduce sponsorship and the ad advertisers directly to your audience? Because, yes, you’re probably using Google ads, censors, you know, another ad revenue sharing platform.
But if you know your audience, and you’ve got that data, you can be very valuable to certain advertisers who much rather go direct with you than to, you know, just insert their credit card into the giant Google machine.
Katie Robbert 23:06
Well, and it also strikes me, you know, and this is, you know, just sort of as an aside my own sort of piecing it all together.
People know if you say Google, people know what that is, like everybody in the world has heard of Google, everybody in the world knows, even if they don’t use it like, like, hey, Google is the way that you get your phone to wake up.
Nobody says, Hey, AltaVista, what a safari, you know.
And so I think just sort of even just putting it in perspective of how big Google is like googling is an adjective.
You know, I was or an adverb, I was googling the thing, or I googled, or Hey, Google, like, it’s become its own thing.
It’s a verb.
It’s, you know what people do.
So it’s, you can’t escape Google.
So if you’re a marketer, who’s not using some sort of Google property, like a Google Analytics, you are definitely going to be at a disadvantage, because they not only have the lion’s share of the market, they have enough different inputs to infer the third party data.
And no one else can compete with that.
Christopher Penn 24:19
Yep, not anytime soon.
So if you are struggling with your own Google Analytics infrastructure, or Google Marketing Platform stuffing you’d like to help let us know.
We are always happy to have a chat with you can go over to TrustInsights.ai dot AI slash contact to let us know what’s going on with your Google Marketing Platform stuff.
And if you’d like to talk more about this or anything else we’ve talked about in today’s show, head on over to Trust insights.ai slash analytics for marketers where you have over 1700 other marketers are talking about analytics and Google and things all all day long.
And wherever it is you’ve watched or listened to, or tuned into the show.
If there’s a channel you prefer, head on over to Trust insights.ai slash ti podcast.
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Thanks for tuning in.
We’ll talk to you next week.
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