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Should You Fear a Google Monopoly?

February 12, 2015 Digital Media Solutions

Google MonopolyLast month, an article in Target Marketing suggested the possibility of a Google monopoly, in which Google sells ads within its display network and provides the performance tracking metrics. This was in reaction to a Google announcement that states they will begin enforcing a pre-existing policy prohibiting certain data management platforms (DMPs) from firing tracking pixels on the Google Display Network (GDN) unless those DMPs also own the demand-site platform (DSP) executing the transaction.

Confused? Here’s what you need to know.

This change will significantly limit who is able to place tracking pixels within Google’s network of sites, impacting both stand-alone DMP companies and the marketers who rely on the objective data of these providers. Tracking pixels are used for accountability (to ensure you get what you’re paying for), but they also allow people to be better marketers by providing the necessary data to optimize where and how ads are shown to consumers.

Some within the industry are speculating that Google is making this change to better compete with Facebook, as predicted by us in December. Facebook has made significant technology developments related to their advertising platform over the past few years. Surprisingly, Facebook has never allowed standard advertisers to use third-party pixels. And this policy has had no impact on Facebook’s advertising revenue, which continues to climb by leaps and bounds.

We believe this change by Google will deliver mixed results:


  • Because it’s hard to secure numerous pixels running on one singular ad unit, the DMP restrictions may reduce third-party data leakage
  • The more that has to load, the longer the load time – fewer pixels fired may boost browser speed
  • If this change is part of a long-term transition to application programming interfaces (APIs), mobile campaign tracking (not possible with pixels) may be more robust than it is today
  • Because a tightly controlled market consolidates spend and power, it may also boost the standards for all advertisers and publishers


  • Google’s new policy will significantly restrict advertiser choice
  • Many advertisers use multiple DSPs to buy ads but only one DMP to track them – this will no longer be allowed
  • Though they can still be used for sites outside the GDN, the future of DMPs that are not bundled with DSPs is in jeopardy
  • Unless a Google-approved DMP is in use across all networks, campaign frequency capping, which requires visibility across a campaign to evaluate how many times a specified audience sees an ad, will be hampered
  • Because effective budgeting requires the ability to effectively track campaigns across different networks, campaign efficiency will suffer – again, unless a Google-approved DMP is in use for all campaigns
  • Performance will be in question – if Google is measuring the effectiveness of its own media, will we believe them?
  • In direct opposition to the last bullet in the list of pros, a digital advertising industry controlled by Google, Facebook and only a few other players may hinder innovation and creativity in the industry

So what can you do? Make sure you have experts running your campaigns. Although there may be no way around the new Google tracking policy, the right team will do whatever they can to ensure you get the results you need from your advertising spend.

If you’d like to discuss the Google changes in detail, feel free to reach out to us. Contact your DMS account executive or fill out this form to have someone contact you.

About the Author

Digital Media Solutions

Founded by a team of lifelong athletes, Digital Media Solutions (DMS), the fastest-growing independent digital performance marketing company. The company’s set of proprietary assets and capabilities in the world of performance marketing and marketing technology allow clients to meticulously target and acquire the right customers. DMS relentlessly pursues flawless execution for top brands within highly complex and competitive industries including mortgage, education, insurance, consumer brands, careers and automotive.

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