Opinion: Is this the beginning of online media unification?

Media Contacts Canada managing director Chris Williams wonders how Google will integrate DoubleClick's suite of products, and has reason to be optimistic about the results.

What is Google up to?

Ever since Google acquired NYC-based Internet advertising company DoubleClick in April 2007 for $3.1 billion, people have been wondering what Google is going to do with the DoubleClick suite of products. From various mutterings it sounds like the ad-managing program DART is moving over to the Google Analytics platform. What I hear is that there will be no integration between the two yet; the DART interface will soon be looking like the functionality of Google Analytics. This can only mean some sort of common access, especially since the merging of conversion tags between Google Analytics and DART is rumoured to be in the works. This makes sense, as last week Google announced a tighter integration between the Adsense network and Google Analytics.

As it starts to look more like Google Analytics, DART will get more reporting enhancements. There will be deeper geo-reporting, data will be available hourly and eventually search and display will be under one interface. They are looking at how exposure to conversion reporting works – along the lines of results publicized by Media Contacts’ Artemis and also shown in Atlas research.

Word is that Motif, DoubleClick’s rich media product, is no longer. That makes sense, as there isn’t really a need for a separate brand name when rich media has become so common. Also being scrutinized are MediaVisor, DartSearch and the Ad Exchange. These fall into three areas of revision: workflow, optimization and reporting. To ease workflow, MediaVisor should integrate with the Google Ad Exchange through Google AdPlanner. For optimization, DART Adapt might be rolled out into DFA, with further improvements around scenario forecasting eventually leading to a true cross-channel optimization tool – hence the importance of Google Analytics and DART working together. And reporting will be aided by Dart Search going into a ‘journey’ type report with possible enhancements that, in the very long term, will bring search and display optimization capabilities.

If Google can pull this off, it will be a very aggressive accomplishment. Workflow issues abound all over online media, and optimization is difficult to perform across different reporting structures – especially when the ‘last click’ attribution model is so badly flawed (see www.mediacontacts.com/mc-insights.php).

Perhaps this is the beginning of the grand unification of the online media planning process. Although right now Google needs to focus on getting better functionality out of DFA and DartSearch, it is hoped that what is coming down the pipe is the integration of these modules into an end-to-end product. What could that mean for other web analytic tools (like Omniture), ad servers (like Atlas) and workflow tools (like iDesk)? It’s difficult to say. Google Adplanner was a disappointment, but with more data being fed into Adplanner, it can only get better.

And their timing is excellent. Driving the ability to measure online campaigns and websites more effectively and efficiently is a message that online marketers want to hear, as they will be facing client questions about how to achieve better results with tighter belts.

Chris Williams is the managing director of Media Contacts Canada.