Facebook from day one, has always enjoyed one seemingly trivial benefit: users login as themselves.
By contrast, Google users can have:
- No logins. ie. when simply using Google search,
- Multiple logins. ie. personal and work gmail, or
- Multiple accounts for different services (eg. one account for Gmail, one for Adwords/Analytics)
What this means for Google is that Google must algorithmically *infer* who is the actual user 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 we used at home, but fast forward 10 years, and we live in a ‘Post PC’, multiple device world. Now Google’s algorithm must also infer behaviour not just on one device, but across multiple devices, multiple logins and multiple accounts. Not to mention problems with cookies being blocked or simply deleted.
Say you’re watching TV, see an ad then google the 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.
Facebook, thanks to your personal login, always knows when you’re logged in, across which device/s, 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. Having this knowledge means one is happy to overweight investment into one device that does not itself convert – because this device opens the buying funnel on another device. A critical decision for digital advertisers.
Further, the Facebook login is entrenched across 3rd party websites and apps, so this knowledge is even extended beyond the Facebook social network itself.
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.