For a long time, Google Analytics (GA) and Campaign Manager 360 (CM360) have existed in parallel dimensions. As far as most advertisers are concerned, the two platforms present two separate measurements of the same conversion data, often reporting differing results for the same campaigns.
Why the reporting differences between GA and CM360?
This disconnect between GA and CM360 can result in conflicting analysis and insights. GA often overestimates the importance of click-based channels like search, while CM360 emphasises the value of ad impressions and frequency. This happens because the two platforms attribute conversions to advertising differently, leading to marketers scratching their heads over which ‘source of truth’ to trust.
Ultimately, the reason for this is that GA and CM360 serve fundamentally different purposes. GA is a website analytics tool, not a marketing tool. It is used primarily to understand when and how visitors interact with your site. CM360 is, at its core, an ad server. It is a tool used by marketers to centralise the management and serving of creative assets, and measure ad clicks and impressions across different publishers.
This means that GA places an especially large emphasis on the data available about site visitors at the time they land on the site. Conversely, CM360 places more weight on data related to when and where users interacted with ads.
How can marketers overcome the issue created by the differences between GA and CM360 data?
The best way to overcome this issue is through comparative attribution modelling and conversion path analysis. These techniques require advanced knowledge of GA and CM360, as well as an understanding of attribution modelling which goes beyond the basic results presented by the platform interfaces. A custom model could even incorporate additional data from the advertiser’s CRM, for example.
However, many advertisers simply do not have the resources to invest in these bespoke solutions, preferring instead to declare either CM360 or GA their platform of choice and disregarding the data given by the other. This approach is suboptimal from an analytical point of view, but it is easy to understand how some advertisers end up in the situation given the knowledge, time and resources required to develop a comprehensive custom attribution model and dashboard from scratch.
Is there a more accessible solution for reconciling GA and CM360 data?
Enter the GA4 x CM360 integration via Floodlight. This is a relatively new integration which shows a lot of promise for advertisers who are struggling with attribution discrepancies between GA4 and CM360. The integration allows advertisers to link their CM360 advertiser with a GA4 property, and export GA4 conversions to CM360 as Floodlight activities.
Once the integration has been set up, you can use CM360 to apply any of your Floodlight attribution models to the GA4 conversions, or apply a default GA4 cross-channel last click model. This means advertisers can now utilise the vast quantity of click and impression data in CM360 when modelling conversions for their GA4 conversions, gaining deeper insights into advertising performance while still leveraging the first-party data which powers GA4.
What other advantages does the GA4 x CM360 integration give marketers?
The integration also enables you to optimise SA360 and DV360 campaigns towards the exported GA4 conversions, as they are now also Floodlight activities. Doing this ensures all activity run through the Google Marketing Platform is focused on the same conversion goals. By including first-party conversion data from GA4, the exported conversions can also feed ad targeting algorithms more data than typical Floodlight activities. In some circumstances, this could mean that using the integration will drive more efficient advertising than using either GA4 or CM360 alone.
The barriers which once separated GA and CM360 are rapidly falling. It’s never been easier to unify measurement between your website analytics and marketing platforms, allowing for a more holistic approach to conversion rate optimisation encompassing the entire customer journey, from the first ad impression to purchase and beyond.
By bringing these powerful tools together, businesses and organisations can laser focus their website and marketing on the outcomes which matter most to them. Contact equimedia now to find out how we can help you to integrate GA4 with your advertising campaigns, leveraging your website’s first-party data to drive stronger results!
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