Andre Kempe,


Admiral Media,

May 25, 2023

Google’s Response to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency Changes

We received a message from Google about one of our clients’ accounts. It stated that the gBraid parameter would be enabled for URLs, to measure iOS14.5+ conversions. We dove deeper into the subject and here is our analysis. Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policy changes were introduced with the rollout of iOS 14.5 and had significant implications for digital advertising. These changes affect the way Google reports and measures conversion information for ads served on iOS 14.5+ traffic. Google has made several updates to comply with Apple’s ATT policy. This article outlines those changes and how they might affect Google Ads advertisers.

Impact on Google Click ID, Website, and Offline Conversions

Prior to the ATT policy changes, Google used information such as Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) for ad targeting and measurement. However, the ATT policies restrict the use of this information. Resulting in Google no longer sending the Google Click Identifier (GCLID) for iOS 14.5+ traffic originated from certain Google apps. As a result, you may see a decrease in GCLIDs in your landing page URLs from this affected traffic. This could also lead to a decrease in reported website and offline conversions (imported from clicks).

Google’s Solutions

In response to these changes, Google introduced a new URL parameter, &wbraid={WBRAID}, in March 2021. This parameter helps advertisers attribute conversions back to their ad campaigns and work with conversion modeling to provide a more accurate measurement on iOS. The Google tag (gtag.js), Google Tag Manager (gtm.js), and Google Analytics (analytics.js) will set a new first-party cookie on your domains by default to attribute conversions back to ads affected by ATT policies. In May 2021, Google introduced another new URL parameter, gBraid, specifically for measuring the results of your ads on iOS when your ads deep link users into your apps. This new parameter is added to landing page URLs when auto-tagging is enabled for all iOS 14.5+ clicks. It can help you measure app conversions driven by ad campaigns on iOS and provide key insights into your Google ad campaign results and app conversions on iOS.

Benefits of Using gBraid

The introduction of the gBraid parameter by Google, as a response to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policy changes, comes with significant advantages for advertisers. Here’s an overview of the benefits of using gBraid:

Enhanced Measurement of Ad Campaigns and App Conversions on iOS

One of the main benefits of using gBraid is that it enables advertisers to measure the results of their ad campaigns and app conversions on iOS more accurately. This is particularly important given the ATT policy’s impact on tracking and measurement. With gBraid, advertisers can gain a deeper understanding of how their ads are performing on iOS devices, which is crucial for optimizing ad campaigns and achieving business goals.

Empowering Bidding Models

Another benefit of gBraid is that it can boost campaign performance by capturing previously unaccounted iOS conversions. This information can significantly enhance bidding models, enabling them to deliver ads more efficiently. By incorporating the data made available through gBraid, advertisers can better optimize their ad spend, getting the most value out of their advertising budget.

Providing Key Insights

gBraid doesn’t just offer measurement capabilities; it also provides valuable insights that can inform advertising strategies. By utilizing this parameter, advertisers can gather more comprehensive data about their ad campaign results, which can subsequently be used to refine their approach, hone their targeting, and ultimately, increase the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Preparations for Advertisers

Google recommends several actions to prepare for these changes:

  1. Deep links are correctly set up.
  2. Ensure that you have the Google tag (gTag.js and/or Google Tag Manager) properly implemented on your site.
  3. Some advertisers may need to allow arbitrary URL parameters on their website to ensure continuity of campaign measurement.
  4. For Video and Discovery campaigns, enable audience expansion for remarketing or Customer Match campaigns, and also choose to include similar audiences on all ad groups.

Google also suggests monitoring the performance and delivery of all campaigns on iOS. Necessary adjustments should be made to budgets and Smart Bidding CPA or ROAS targets.

Integration with App Attribution Partners

Google also explains how to set up Google Ads integration with Adjust, Airbridge, AppsFlyer, and Branch, which are all App Attribution Partners. Each of these platforms has its own requirements for integration, and some even offer the option to use server-to-server (S2S) integration. For instance, to set up and activate Google Ads integration with Adjust, no other requirements are needed for SDK integration, while for S2S integration, the “deeplink” parameter needs to be passed to Adjust server-to-server (S2S) sessions.

In conclusion

Google’s proactive response to these changes, through the introduction of new tools and parameters, underscores the importance of adapting to this new environment. These efforts illustrate Google’s compliance with these privacy alterations and highlights the necessity for marketers to do the same. For advertisers, it’s vital to stay abreast of these developments. Understand their implications, and adjust strategies accordingly to maintain effective campaign performance.

Key insights to Google’s Proactive Approach to ATT Policy Changes and Its Implications for Marketers.

  • Adaptation to Privacy Protocols: Google has adapted to new privacy protocols, notably by stopping the transmission of the Google Click Identifier (GCLID) for certain iOS 14 traffic to comply with the updated policies.
  • Implementation of Innovative Tools for Attribution: Google has launched new URL parameters, including wBraid and gBraid. These tools are designed to help marketers accurately trace conversions back to their ad campaigns, specifically on iOS platforms.
  • Focus on First-Party Cookie Usage: Google is placing significant emphasis on the use of first-party cookies. A strategy that respects user privacy more than the use of third-party cookies.

Ultimately, Google’s proactive response to the ATT changes underscores its comprehensive understanding of the rapidly transforming marketing landscape.

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