The Importance of Independence in Paid Media Intelligence and Optimization

November 9, 2023

The ad management tools provided by Google, Facebook, and even Amazon to manage paid media campaigns have come a long way. It wasn't too long ago that doing basic reporting, campaign management, or something as simple as bidding required you to look to a third-party platform.

But today, the publisher platforms offer great campaign management tools that help you get the most out of your investment in that channel. However, because they only function within that channel, there are a lot of limitations for cross-channel advertisers. 

This isn't to say that you shouldn't use the publisher tools. They’re an important part of your toolkit. But you’d likely benefit from expanding your workflows to include a cross-channel platform. Let's dive into the reasons why this is important…

Are publishers grading their own homework?

All of the publisher platforms offer automated recommendations on how to improve the performance of your campaigns. These are helpful – but if you look closely, they’re often aligned with increased spending, not necessarily increased performance for your business. For example, consider recommendations that focus on click-through rates. Yes, having a high click-through rate is great. But if those clicks won't turn into revenue, you may spend more for no additional return. It’s better to have recommendations that are based on your business goals. Did you get to grade your own homework? Do you ask the barber if you need a haircut? Of course not! So why would you ask the publishers where you should allocate your budget?

Is your measurement keeping up with evolving privacy trends?

Since the demise of cookies, publisher tools have had a much harder time tracking conversions. Google Ads now employs conversion modeling techniques that use aggregated data to estimate conversions. While they’re trying their best, it's in your business’s best interests to use a first-party data measurement platform that can track conversions without cookies. 

Google Analytics is often seen as the industry standard for conversion and revenue tracking and it’s definitely the tracking option that many of Marin’s customers use. While we’re happy to integrate with Google Analytics, the rollout of Google Analytics 4’s new data-driven attribution model raised some concerns about the accuracy of its conversion data attribution.

The last iteration of Google Analytics, commonly referred to as Universal Analytics or GA 360, defaulted to a last-click attribution model. This attribution model was quite straightforward — it gave credit for a conversion to the last channel that the customer interacted with before converting. But the new Google Analytics 4 (GA4) defaults to a data-driven attribution model, which uses Google’s machine learning to assign partial credit to various touchpoints along the conversion path. This attribution model is much less straightforward, and there are concerns that GA4 may be underreporting conversion data from Google’s competitors like Microsoft Ads. 

In late September, Microsoft representatives emailed advertisers expressing concerns about the efficacy of GA4’s reporting on Microsoft Ads’ conversions and revenue. They noted that the shift to data-driven attribution was “causing potentially large discrepancies in conversion attribution reporting between Google’s tools (GA4 and Search Ads 360 (SA360)) and Microsoft Advertising.” They estimated that “the magnitude of underrepresentation is ~50%.” That’s a big discrepancy. The Microsoft representatives also noted that they “have seen cases where the move to GA4 has caused discrepancies even when clients continued to use last-click attribution” and therefore they “always encourage you to check Microsoft’s reporting for Microsoft conversions.” While they didn’t share any proof that Google Analytics is maliciously underreporting Microsoft Ads’ conversions, this sort of gray area, and Google-first bias, is exactly the sort of thing you can avoid by using a neutral first-party data tracking system like Marin.

Image Source

Are you sharing data that you shouldn’t be?

In order to get the most out of publisher bidding algorithms, you need to provide them with conversion and revenue data from your source of truth. Ideally, you’re giving the publishers enough information to understand the profitability of each click. However, how much data does a publisher account need to effectively optimize a campaign? And how much of your proprietary information do you really want to share with Google, Bing, Meta, etc.? When it comes to data privacy, understanding how your data is being used is more important than ever – but transparency from publishers is severely lacking.  A guaranteed way to capitalize on intelligent bidding without jeopardizing your proprietary data is to leverage a third-party tool like Marin. third-party tools offer a safe and secure space to store the data needed for optimizations, separate from the publisher platforms you're marketing on.

Are you doing repetitive work across platforms?

If you create and edit campaigns in one publisher tool at a time, you’ll be repeating workflows over and over again. Many of us have suffered through the process of creating multiple bulk sheets, and then uploading those sheets into each individual ad editor when launching a cross-publisher campaign. Then once that campaign is complete, exporting the front-end data from the publishers and backend data from Google analytics, unifying it into one Google sheet, then creating reports and data visualizations…These tedious processes used to be a rite of passage for entry-level paid search associates, but no one should have to suffer through that! Your team’s time is better spent working on strategy. From data collection to launching new campaigns to optimization, you’ll work more efficiently if you can execute these workflows all at one time, in one platform.

What is the modern PPC stack?

As the performance marketing world grows increasingly more complex, relying exclusively on publisher tools is a mistake. It forces you to work in silos, leaving you open to blind spots and wasted investment. The modern customer encounters many ads across multiple channels before reaching the bottom of the conversion funnel. Don’t you wish you had some sort of ‘referee’ to monitor your spend, ROAS, and CPA independent of publisher bias? 

That’s where a Marketing Data Pipeline, like Marin, can swoop in and make your life easier (and your ROAS better). Our omnichannel platform normalizes and organizes marketing data into a single source of truth – so your team can easily retrieve, examine, tell the story of, and act on insights from your data.

Marin brings all your data together under one roof. Then, it analyzes your performance across all your channels – and provides unbiased recommendations on where to spend your next dollar, how to better optimize campaigns, and more. Since we have no skin in the game, we don’t care which publisher you spend your money on. We care about your bottom line — getting the best return on advertising investment for your business.

Our clients typically have about 20% more time to focus on strategy after integrating Marin into their daily workflows. These time saving tools also drive an increase in revenue. It’s a win-win. 

Interested in learning more? Click here to schedule a demo with one of our experts!

Lauren Neels

Marin Software
By submitting this form, I am agreeing to Marin’s privacy policy.

See why brands have relied on Marin to manage over $48 billion in spend