Death of DoubleClick, Birth of a Monster?

Cleaning out my apartment to prepare for a new family member, I came across an old, dusty travel mug that I don’t think had ever been used. (Travel mugs are useless for an espresso snob like moi.) Emblazoned on its side was a DoubleClick logo so old that I honestly wasn’t sure which decade it hailed from. I marveled at it for a second, pondering where I’d picked up this oddity and all the time gone by since, and then casually flipped it into the trash.

I had no idea that would be omen. (Also, I’m wondering if I could have cashed in on some ad tech nostalgia…)

Last week a blog post dripping with PR glaze informed us that DoubleClick for Publishers has been merged with AdExchange to become Google Ad Manager—“a new name that better reflects how our platform helps you earn more and protects your brand, wherever your audience is engaging and however advertisers are looking to work with you. “

No more DFP and ADX, but GAM in its place. Whereas DFP will always be “Dat F—ing Platform!” to me, I’m afraid GAM brings to mind images of a single, detached but very shapely leg.

Already I can hear the quotes—

“I can’t get a leg up on fourth-quarter forecasting revenue in GAM.”

“Check out the GAM on that suite of sites!”

“I knee you to traffic those ads in GAM in calve the time.”

“The discrepancies coming out of GAM are so thigh!”

Gone too is AdWords, amputated to just “Ads.” In addition, DoubleClick’s buy-side products and Analytics 360 Suite have been condensed into Google Marketing Platform—and I strongly suggest that you yell, “Bring out the GMP!” every time you load it up.

A Merger Made in… HELL?

Terrible, terrible jokes aside, the name changes are the resolution of a year-and-a-half long merging project between Google’s various platforms. (A friend even noted that Google Ad Manager is a resurrection of a Google product from before the DoubleClick acquisition.)

What’s the point of this unholy fusion? SYNERGIES! Make somewhat disparate Google offerings work better together!

And considering that the melding has been under way since about the same time Google announced Exchange Bidding for Dynamic Allocation—the server-to-server connection right into the exchange formerly known as AdX that popped out of beta in April 2018—my guess is that the top goal is to try and wean publishers off of header integrations and get them hooked on EBDA demand.

It seems funny to me that there’s no longer even a pretense of separation between ad server and SSP/exchange. The name change re-emphasizes that Google will leverage its near-monopolistic control of the publisher ad server market to shoo away other demand sources—whether or not that’s good for the publisher or the advertiser.

[Quote_1]It’s another attempt to squeeze out competition and keep publishers (and advertisers) sucking at the Google teat. I can never forget that Google’s Dynamic Allocation managed to further throw the playing field into disarray beyond the waterfall.

Google will always try to spin the odds in its favor—which is not something that other SSPs and programmatic offerings do. Consider AppNexus and Index Exchange working towards standardization in header wrapper integrations. As we’re seeing with Open AP and the Advertising ID Consortium/DigiTrust, industry collaboration between competitors can be the rising tide that lifts all boats.

However, Google plays to win, and seems to have no qualms about slowing the progress of the industry on the whole if it drives more revenue for shareholders.

The Peanut Gallery Speaks

Fortunately, I think smart publisher ops people will foil this effort just like they did with header bidding. I turned to my publisher base to get their read on the re-birth of Google Ad Manager and the feelings were mixed.

  • The chief advantage seems to be enabling programmatic and direct-sales ops teams to work in the same system. One called it quite the boon for holistic yield management efforts. Since the rollout has been rather gradual, some have been able to easily adjust.
  • Others however suggested that the merging has somehow created more annoyances and work than before. It seems pulling reports (and getting certain data included) is a work in progress at best.
  • Some questioned how the consolidation will affect pricing.
  • The unification has made it easier to offer programmatic guaranteed, including integrated first- and third-party data products as well as custom executions.
  • Can’t complain about easy access into EBDA—there is quality demand coming through that channel.
  • But especially in the wake of its GDPR power grab, publishers are wondering what data Google will take advantage of… and how?

So while many welcome the move, skepticism is flowing throughout the publisher community at typical levels. I expect to hear far more about it at the August Publisher Forum in Portland, OR. I am aware we need to change the name of the “DFP Commiseration Group” at PubForums—how does “GAM Appreciation Society” sound?

UPDATE July 9, 2018: Google reached out to tell me that the branding for Google Ad Manager is simply Ad Manager. But I’ll never forget the leg… GAM on, my friends—GAM ON!