I was recently asked by a client “Do I really need an ad server?” It’s an understandable question given today’s programmatic tools and platforms include ad serving capabilities, but the answer for this client and most organizations today is a resounding yes.

Third party ad servers play an important role in your media and marketing success, especially in light of 3P cookie deprecation. As 1PD becomes a prerequisite for success, third party ad servers, like Google’s Campaign Manager 360 (CM360) offer opportunities to strengthen your data, uncover new insights, and ultimately, maximize media performance. 

This post will explain how, but first we’ll provide a brief overview of the platform. 

What is CM360?

Part of Google Marketing Platform (GMP), CM360 is an ad management system that helps advertisers and agencies execute and manage digital marketing campaigns. It is commonly used as a source of truth for advertisers and allows for parallel comparison of publisher performance and reporting. 

It includes robust functionality for ad serving, centralized ad management, tracking and measurement, verification, and more. As part of these capabilities, the platform can collect data and target campaigns without relying on 3P cookies while also offering ways to increase the value of your 1PD.

CM360 & Cookie-Less Capabilities

CM360 collects data through a variety of ways that allow advertisers to target and segment audiences effectively, even in a post 3P cookie world. For example:

  • Pixel Tracking: CM360 uses pixels to track interactions, such as page views, clicks and conversions. This allows users to collect behavioral and preference data, which can be used to create audience segments.
  • Contextual Targeting: CM360 can help advertisers target ads based on contextual signals, such as the content of a web page or the context of a user’s current activity. Contextual targeting will be an effective alternative as 3P cookies are deprecated.
  • Segmentation: CM360 can be used to create audience segments based on 1PD and contextual data. These segments can then be used to target specific groups of users with tailored messaging, all without relying on 3P cookies.

CM360 & Maximizing Data Value

Above and beyond data collection and targeting, CM360’s reporting can help increase the value of your 1PD and CM360 data can be combined with other sources to create new and powerful data sets. 

For example, CM360 can track impressions and clicks across various ad placements and formats, providing insights into which creatives are most effective. This data can then be enriched by integrating Google Analytics 4 (GA4) data, which offers detailed user behavior metrics such as session duration, bounce rate and goal completions. 

By combining these data sets, advertisers can understand not just how many people are clicking on their ad, but also how engaged those users are and whether they're completing desired website actions. This holistic view enables advertisers to drive better campaign performance and ROI, all without relying on 3P cookies.

In CM360 advertisers can also combine reports across channels and non-media tools, like Google Analytics. This helps you uncover insights you might otherwise miss and build a richer pool of 1PD that can be used for future media activation and opportunities. 

For example, the Campaign Performance Report in particular is helpful as it includes channel performance from session data from GA4 360. It provides a comprehensive view of the campaign performance, including metrics like impressions, click, conversions, revenue, CTR, conversion rate, etc. 

CM360: Continued Importance

As 3P cookies are deprecated, CM360 will continue to serve an important purpose for enterprise campaign management, ad serving, and agnostic measurement, but don’t forget to explore and capitalize on all the ways the platform can also help you enrich and strengthen your 1PD. 

The platform, along with its integrations across the rest of the Google ecosystem, will be key to sustaining performance in the cookieless future. And, it will continue to be a key focus for Google too. In 2024 Google is enhancing the platform with updates to 3PCD readinesses solutions, as well as CM360 CTV and AI-driven capabilities. This, combined with Google’s continued investment in measurement features, means that CM360 will continue to play an important role within the GMP ecosystem and should be a consideration for anyone not currently adopting a 3rd party ad server.