Blog Post

Is the Google Chrome Announcement Another Nail in the MTA Coffin?

maggie merklin
maggie merklin 01.31.2020

When Google announced the impending removal of third-party cookies, a temporary pandemonium ensued – but far from being a world-ending change, Google’s updates, which will not take effect for another two years, are just one more nail in the proverbial coffin of traditional multi-touch attribution measurement capabilities. The previous nails include the continuous walls around consumers’ favorite “gardens” (Facebook, YouTube, Amazon, etc.), GDPR followed by CCPA, and now Google has lifted the hammer once again, determined to seal this coffin.


No one disputes that Google’s removal of third-party cookies will further limit the measurement capabilities of attribution. And no one should be surprised – the ability to track every marketing exposure a person encounters was already deeply limited. Google’s Privacy Sandbox is meant to be a solution of sorts, but for many marketers, the ambiguity of this sandbox and their concern for their own data privacy may make it a non-starter. The real question is: Now what?


While many are making funeral arrangements for multi-touch attribution, it’s important to note that from the start, MTA has been broken… more promise than reality. Relying on cookies alone to make major decisions about spend and effectiveness was never a good idea. As with many things, the best approach is a holistic one.


That’s why we undertake an adaptive approach, leveraging Commercial Mix Modeling to provide deep insights that drive real value – even without cookie-level visibility. Our approach ensures that even when addressable media touchpoints are a piece of the puzzle, it’s never counted on in isolation as the single point of truth (as in MTA alone). Rather, we apply our CMM solution to integrate customer segment and persona data at a level that does not require user-specific details, while still providing solutions that can be leveraged for accurate audience measurement and targeting.


In a recent experiment, we found that the selected methodology, more than data loss, has the biggest impact on the accuracy of outcomes. Considering the impending changes from Google, we believe it’s crucial for all brands to choose an approach to measurement that will allow them to gain the most accurate results when dealing with data loss. It’s vital to continuously experiment with, test and validate measurement strategies while incorporating an adaptive methodology. This is at the core of Commercial Mix Modeling, and, when combined with continuous assessment of data quality, is key to ensuring robust results.


Will the day come when the industry collectively pulls the plug on MTA as it currently exists? Yes, this is very likely. While there still may be some solutions that add a bit more life to it such as a Universal ID, as long as the walled gardens hold much of consumers’ attention, it will always be a flawed solution. First-party data is going to continue to grow in importance and what is currently known as MTA will morph into blended or more siloed solutions, used in a more limited way to better understand touchpoints. In fact, Analytic Partners has already been adapting and leveraging touchpoint analytics to glean tactical user-level insights.


As the only constant is change, we stand by the importance of the three words in our tagline: Adapt, Evolve, Thrive. We hope you will continue to do all three, long after the cookie is dead and buried.


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