• March 15, 2024
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Google Launches Meridian, a Measurement Tool for Advertisers

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As Google goes ahead with plans to eliminate third-party cookies later this year, the software giant launched Meridian, a measurement tool for advertisers.

Meridian, an open-source marketing mix model (MMM), will help advertisers analyze campaign performance by measuring the impact of marketing strategies, sales, and customer retention efforts. Advanced features in Meridian include geo-location modeling at both the national and regional levels, the ability ptimize campaigns based on how many people see ads and how frequently, and recommendations for allocating marketing spend across channels.

MMMs "are statistical analyses that help companies measure the holistic impact of cross-channel marketing on key outcomes like sales," explains Google's Harikesh Nair, senior director of data science.

And while MMMs have been around for a while—they are currently being used by 60 percent of U.S. advertisers, and more than half of all advertisers not currently using them are planning to do so—Google says its models are a bit different.

Nair says Google's MMM is built "with innovations like calibration through incrementality experiments, integrating reach and frequency, and providing guidance on measuring search."

The model also offers "rich data inputs, model guidance, and cross-channel budget optimization," according to Nair, who also points out that because it's open-source, it offers full transparency, allowing anyone to review its code and methodology.

"Marketers face increasing complexity in measuring the full value of their cross-channel media strategies, driven largely by fragmented media consumption and ongoing privacy changes," Nair says. "MMMs today are not perfect but are evolving. With Meridian, we look to help your team navigate toward your future North Star, both through innovation and by sharing our data in conjunction with an open-source model."

Forrester Research Principal Analyst Tina Moffett fundamentally praises Google's efforts with Meridian, but with some limitations.

Meridian, she says, "competes in the highly sought-after space of marketing effectiveness measurement tools," and offers "a robust and competitive MMM framework for brands aiming to construct their own marketing mix model."

But she hedges on Google's level of innovation with the new model. "While Google claims that Meridian's MMM approach is innovative, many vendors in the marketing analytics space provide similar MMM techniques, often incorporating testing results in the model and using machine learning algorithms, like Bayesian methods," she says.

Moffett also questioned Google's open-source transparency, saying, "Transparency remains elusive for nontechnical stakeholders, like a vice president of marketing, who are the primary stakeholders and buyers for MMM tools. They may need more clarity around machine learning modeling techniques."

And she urges marketing leaders to do their homework before fully committing to Meridian or any other model.

"Before adopting MMM, marketers should explore the development of a comprehensive marketing measurement strategy that encompasses various methods. This approach is essential for effectively evaluating performance, considering the complexities of different channels and tactics," Moffett says.

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