Ananya Pathak

How will Google's data cap affect advertisers?

Search giant Google will no longer include contextual content categories in bid requests sent to buyers participating in an auction. How will this affect advertisers?

Earlier this month, search giant Google announced its plan to limit advertisers' access to user data. Starting February 2020 it will no longer divulge information to participants in its ad auction about the type of content on a website or page where an ad could appear, the Alphabet Inc.-owned company said in a blogpost.

In other words, Google will no longer include contextual content categories in the bid requests it sends to buyers participating in an auction. Content categories are descriptions of the type of content on a specific page, website or app. These descriptions helped advertisers avoid showing ads on certain types of content that aren’t suitable for their brands, or as a way for advertisers to identify types of content where they do want to serve ads.

“This change will help avoid the risk that any participant in our auctions is able to associate individual ad identifiers with Google’s contextual content categories,” Chetna Bindra, senior product manager for user trust and privacy at Google, states the blogpost.

The announcement came following Google's discussion with the European Union.

So, how will this data restriction affect advertisers?

Atit Mehta, marketing head at Think & Learn (BYJU's), thinks this move will certainly impact the broader ecosystem, “The restrictions would now not divulge information to the servers about the consumer who is browsing a website or a page. This can lead to wastage of advertising dollar on digital because non-contextual advertising will be pushed from the system. This will lead to lower ROI and a big impact to all programmatic aggregators.”

Atit Mehta
Atit Mehta

He adds, “This could also lead to advertisers looking at digital performance marketing the same way as they look at TV, print, radio or OOH, where targetting is very limited and (I’m assuming) growth rates in the near future on digital might be muted.”

Rajat Girdhar, head of marketing, ShopClues India, says that the agenda seems to be restricting tagging a user to such content. The move seems largely aimed at some political advertising that has in the past done this.

Rajat Girdhar
Rajat Girdhar

“My USD 0.02 on the same is that this will not have any profound effect on digital businesses like us, as these categories are fairly broad, such as news, weather, etc., as far as we are concerned. The signals that are important to us are intent signals i.e. is the user in the market for a product/service that we are selling, for example, when a user searches for a product/service on Google,” he says.