Google is building the piece of the ad-tech jigsaw it needs to fend off Facebook

Larry Page smiling happyJustin Sullivan/Getty ImagesGoogle CEO Larry Page.

Google is testing a new ad-tech product — a data management platform (DMP) — that it will be hoping will fend off competition from Facebook and its considerable wealth of data about its users that marketers can apply to serve to the rest of the web, Adweek reports.

The DMP will be called DoubleClick Audience Center, a source with knowledge of the new product told Adweek.

It will be available to advertisers using the DoubleClick ad exchange and third-party ad networks, allowing them to input more data — either their own, such as data from a supermarket’s loyalty scheme, or from a third-party provider — about the audiences they are looking to target with their online ads before they make.

As one digital marketing source told Adweek, a DMP would mean Google would now offer the full ad-tech stack: “A demand-side platform to buy ads; an exchange for publishers to sell ads; an attribution product to measure performance; and a dominant position in search and mobile.”

Google confirmed to Adweek that it is working on the platform, but declined to offer further details.

It looks as though Google has been working on its DMP for some while.

Here’s the LinkedIn profile for James Cote, who describes himself as a “Manager for Google’s first native Data Management Platform,” and having been in that role since November 2014.

And this slideshow deck published in July last year from Emma Higham, an industry analyst for media buying solutions at Google also references the “DoubleClick Audience Center” in the transcript notes.

These two marketing executives have also previously inferred that they have been given an early look at the product:

If Google’s DMP is a) good and b) can get to market quick enough, it could be a gamechanger in fending off Facebook from stealing its crown at the head of the digital advertising market.

Google has incredible scale across its display advertising network and ad-tech products have been in the market for longer than Facebook’s LiveRail (on the supply-side, or for publishers) or Atlas (on the demand side, or for advertisers.) Google’s AdWords, AdSense, DoubleClick, and Google Analytics are all the leaders in their respective markets.

But one of the criticisms often leveled against Google versus Facebook from digital marketers is that it does not have the wealth of first-party data about its users that the social network has. Facebook often touts this to advertisers as “people-based marketing”: it knows exactly who its users are because its users voluntarily tell the platform all about themselves. And the Facebook login carries across from device to device, so it knows if someone who saw an ad on their mobile, for example, went on to buy something on their desktop computer.

Google is trying to tackle the cross-device problem, using your Google ID as an identifier, And it too has a wealth of data from Gmail, its 1 billion-plus Android users, and it knows a lot about purchase intent through Google Search. A data management platform could help weave together all those different threads for marketers.

As Adweek points out, Google is currently facing increased regulatory scrutiny, having been formally charged by the EU for abusing its dominant search market position. That could hamper plans to tie in search data with its ad-tech products.

But a DMP is what the advertising market is asking of Google. As one ad-tech exec told Adweek:

“Obviously Google has troves of data. It’s one of the things that makes them so successful,” adding that the “last mile” for its ad piping is to tie the information more accurately to Web users on desktop, mobile, tablet and even digital TV.

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