One of the success factors of digital giants such as Google, Amazon or Facebook is the way they package their marketing services and give restricted access to their data through an approach known as “Walled Gardens”. But what does the word « Walled Garden » really mean and how are your campaigns impacted as a result?
Walled Garden: what is it?
The word « Walled Garden » is used for a closed and self-contained ecosystem in which all operations are controlled by the operator and where access if very limited for third-party solutions. The goal is to protect the advertising spaces of these ecosystems and all related data, which rule the current AdTech landscape.
This operating mode is not specific to the digital world and is well-known to all marketing teams. Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple have created these Walled Garden around their advertising ecosystems, so as to control the value chain, from marketing campaign data collection all the way to performance measurement. This control results in high-quality data that cannot easily be cross-pollinated with outside data.
A golden silo
The creation of a Walled Garden is only possible if the corporation that creates it has a critical mass of users that numbers into the billions (2.5 billion MAU on Facebook in Q3 2019 – Google has a 90% share of the search engine market in 2019). Indeed, the quality of the data generated arises from the fact that users are in a logged environment on their various devices. Cross-device matching of a conversion path is much simpler if for every YouTube advertisement or every Facebook banner, you can precisely identify the user since he is connected via his Google or Facebook account.
The quality of the available data allows those Net giants to very precisely target highly qualified audiences. This targeting is what marketing specialists are looking for as Walled Gardens propose a wealth of data to target consumers. However, marketers still ask the question: what is the performance of my marketing campaigns within Walled Gardens ? And this is where the rubber meets the road….
Judge and party
Collection of such high-quality data is usually balanced by a relative lack of transparency. So as to minimize data leakage, Walled Gardens offer the functionalities necessary to manage campaigns but do not allow exporting data outside the Walled Garden.
Campaigns run in Walled Gardens are typically part of a wider global media strategy that spans various players, marketing channels as well as sales channels and buying behaviors. Due to a lack of transparency, it is hard to compare the performance of your YouTube campaigns versus your Facebook campaigns if you cannot measure both investments using the same tool in similar conditions?
Moreover, one should point out that Walled Garden offer their own analytical tools to measure campaign performance. Those tools are both analytics and media-buying tools. They prevent marketers from challenging the performance of their networks and make it harder to calculate attribution performance for each campaign.
The question many marketers ask themselves is thus: how can I make sure my investments are optimally allocated if the player that makes recommendations regarding my campaigns is also the one that gets the lion’s share of my budget? The answer is simple: free yourself form this bias by using the recommendations of a trusted third-party.
The trusted third-party dilemna
Today, many tools (ad-servers, analytics, …) are eager to offer a connection to Walled Gardens. The technology exists and is well understood, but the barrier is not technical but business in nature. Indeed, Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple do not share their data, both to prevent third parties from evaluating their performance, but also to keep their high-quality data in-house. This is sort of paradoxical, since their main buying point is also their main hurdle.
However, a noticeable change in behavior among marketers has happened in the last few years. Marketers no longer go look for performance where it has traditionnally been or out of habit. Rather, they try to investigate performance for themselves using more transparent partners that allow reliable access to data.
This level of maturity among marketers has put pressure on Walled Gardens, and some of them are progressively accepting third-party tracking (For instance : Amazon authorizes using third-party pixels if the third-party solution manages a media budget on Amazon in excess of US$300.000 per year).
Wizaly is eager to integrate Walled Garden data, and particularly so for post-view tracking (Facebook, Youtube, Instagram impressions, etc) that are currently not allowed. As we wait for those giants to open up access to their data, we are actively working on new algorithms to measure the performance and the accuracy of the information provided by the various Walled Gardens.