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Cookies vs People (or Google vs Facebook)

From day one, Facebook users have always been able to login as themselves.

By contrast, Google users have to deal with multiple logins and accounts across numerous devices.

Cookies are good enough for me

This means Google must algorithmically infer who the actual user is, and assemble this information in the cookie.

Since Facebook knows who the user is at all times it simply stores actual user data against the real person.

The cookie was fine when we each had one computer and one account, but fast forward 10 years and we live in a post-PC, multi-device world.

Blade Runner

Now Google’s algorithm must also infer behaviour not just on one device, but across multiple devices, logins and accounts. Not to mention problems with cookies being blocked or simply deleted.

Say you’re watching TV and see an ad, then search for a product on your smartphone. You like what you see but hate entering your credit card on your mobile, so you pull up your laptop to finish the transaction.

Google may not infer that this is the same person starting on one device and finishing on another.

Front runner

Thanks to your personal login, Facebook always knows when you’re logged in, across which devices, and even which device you’re physically active on at any point in time.

Facebook knows exactly, and without inference, when you see an ad on one device and convert on another.

Front runner

Having this knowledge means marketers are more willing to overweight investment into one device that does not itself convert, because this device opens the buying funnel on another device.

Further, the Facebook login is entrenched across third-party websites and apps, so this knowledge extends beyond Facebook.

To be fair, Google is doing a lot of hard work to provide cross device attribution estimates, but it really needs a fundamental change from the ground up – essentially following Facebook’s lead and only allowing logged in users to use the service.

Due to the transparency (ie. clear ROI) and continuing strength of cross device targeting and attribution on Facebook, unless Google plugs this major hole, we’re going to continue to see ad spend formerly earmarked for Google moving to Facebook.

About the Author
Adam Sugihto is founder of specialist, Melbourne based Pay Per Click agency and Google Certified Partner, Intentional. Since 2009, the Intentional team have driven online advertising for companies in global markets such as Prague, Paris, Tokyo, London, Shanghai, Bangkok, New York and LA; as well as being digital advisor and partner in the Australian domestic market for numerous household brands and NFPs.

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