Google to stop media buyers from using DoubleClick IDs, keeping measurement & attribution within its ‘walled garden’

Google has told media buyers who use its data transfer service that they will no longer be able to use a DoubleClick ID, multiple sources reported in the past week. Marketers use the IDs to pull cross-platform measurement data from Google’s DoubleClick Campaign Manager (DCM).

Google has told its partners that beginning May 25, DoubleClick will no longer populate the encrypted UserID field that stores the DoubleClick cookie ID and mobile device IDs in DCM and DoubleClick Bid Manager (DBM) logs for impressions, clicks and site activities associated with users in the EU.

May 25 is also the deadline for compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a sweeping set of rules that govern data privacy for members of the European Union.

The walls of the garden get higher

The move means that DCM users will be unable to use cookies or mobile device IDs to connect impressions, clicks and site activities from the DCM logs, according to Victor Wong, chief executive officer of Thunderhead Experience Cloud. It limits users to Google’s own Ads Data Hub for those metrics.

Wong said that as a result of this change:

Brands and agencies using DoubleClick logs will no longer be able to independently:

  • Verify frequency by cookie or person.
  • Count total ad exposure by person.
  • Analyze true reach of media placements and campaigns.
  • Compare reach and duplication by media placement and campaign.
  • Attribute or de-duplicate conversions and clicks.
  • Report on user conversion rates.
  • Identify unique site traffic driven.

Brands and agencies will need to decide if they can completely trust Google without backup in terms of accuracy of measurement for media Google is itself selling or competing against.

Wong says that this news signals two trends that ultimately offer less transparency around measurement and attribution:

Walled gardens are continuing to raise their walls — not just from Google and Facebook, but also Oath, Amazon and others — and leveraging privacy concerns as pretext. These media sellers are also now further pushing their own measurement and attribution solutions in a bid to grade their own homework and prevent cross-platform comparison.

Anthony Iacovone, co-founder and CEO of Barometric, agrees that limitations such as these push buyers into a more insular ecosystem.

To paint a picture of what is actually happening with the deprecation of the DoubleClick ID, it is important to understand how Google’s push to Ad Data Hub creates an outcome that benefits very few in the ecosystem outside of Google. Many advertisers rely on their IDs to optimize, target and attribute their media. The removal of this ID will set back many methods currently in place to accomplish these things. There are alternatives of course, but this will require many agencies and brands to standardize on other graph IDs that allow measurement of multiple media sources.

Iacovone said that the advent of Ads Data Hub exacerbates a scenario that started with YouTube, which will now block third-party pixels from measuring YouTube media.

In response, a Google spokesperson said:

We’re making these changes as part of our ongoing commitment to user privacy. Ad reporting is an important part of the digital ecosystem, and we are committed to partnering with advertisers and partners to help refine strategies, including investing heavily in the expansion of Ads Data Hub.


About The Author

Robin Kurzer started her career as a daily newspaper reporter in Milford, Connecticut. She then made her mark on the advertising and marketing world in Chicago at agencies such as Tribal DDB and Razorfish, creating award-winning work for many major brands. For the past seven years, she’s worked as a freelance writer and communications professional across a variety of business sectors.

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