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Effectively use the Attribution Reporting API for ad measurement


Historically, ad-tech providers have used third-party cookies (3PC) as a mechanism for conversion measurement, and for attributing conversions to ad interactions. Conversion measurement provides critical ad performance data to advertisers, and helps optimize auction-based bidding strategies.

Currently, the online advertising ecosystem is pivoting towards improved ways to protect user privacy. Chrome’s Attribution Reporting API (ARA), a part of the larger Privacy Sandbox initiative, offers an alternative for measurement after the third-party cookie deprecation in 2024. Ad-tech providers, including Google’s ads platforms, should consider adopting the ARA to maintain high-quality conversion measurement and support the pivot toward user privacy protection.

Google Ads has made significant investments to use the ARA more effectively and to help advertisers achieve more accurate measurement. We encourage other ad-tech providers to integrate with the ARA, configure the integration to retrieve the data they need, and process the ARA's output to help maintain accurate measurement after the planned third-party cookie deprecation in 2024.

Goals of the ARA

The ARA has two goals:

  • Protect users’ cross-site and cross-app identities from ad-tech providers, advertisers, publishers and other entities by using differential privacy techniques, such as aggregation, or adding an element of noise to the data.
  • Provide useful measurement information to ad-tech providers, advertisers, and publishers.

The ARA represents a change to both the format and granularity of conversion data available to ad-tech providers. As a result, ad-tech providers must change their current measurement protocols in order to start leveraging the ARA.

A glimpse into our approach

Ad-tech providers who participate in the Privacy Sandbox initiative receive data from the ARA in two forms: event-level reports and aggregate summary reports. This way, two independent views of the same underlying data are available. We encourage ad-tech providers to configure the reporting settings in the API to optimize for better measurement accuracy without 3PC, as well as improve how these two types of reports can be post-processed and used together.

There are many possible ways to utilize the ARA reports. The methodology that works for an ad-tech provider will ultimately depend on its conversion data and measurement requirements. Google Ads has found that leveraging both report types can help the industry benefit from the strengths of each report.

Google Ads leverages both event types to produce a more complete, ad event-level log. We are committed to sharing our process and engaging with the ecosystem to help our partners and the broader industry transition into a future without third-party cookies.

For more details on how we’re implementing the Attribution Reporting API, please refer to our detailed technical guide.

Prepare to test Privacy Sandbox APIs with Google’s ads platforms

Last week, Chrome announced the upcoming general availability of Privacy Sandbox APIs for the ads ecosystem. We welcome this opportunity to test these APIs in Google’s ads platforms, and we invite ad technology partners to get involved and be ready for Chrome’s third-party cookie deprecation in 2024.

We’ve seen encouraging results from our recent interest-based advertising experiments, and we plan to integrate Topics, Protected Audience and Attribution Reporting APIs into our ads products. We’ll use Privacy Sandbox APIs alongside other privacy-preserving innovations to help deliver relevant ads and accurate measurement insights without the need to track people across the web.

We encourage advertisers and publishers to continue to adopt the full range of Google’s privacy-first ads solutions, and encourage their ad technology platform partners to adopt and test Privacy Sandbox APIs.

Through the rest of 2023, we will work with our ad technology partners to test the Privacy Sandbox APIs alongside first-party data and AI-powered solutions, and prepare for Q1 2024 when Chrome plans to deprecate third-party cookies for one percent of its users. The Q1 2024 tests will help us to evaluate the effectiveness of these solutions, and share our findings with Chrome, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, and the industry.

We encourage technology partners to review the below guidance to prepare for testing with Google’s Ads solutions:
  • If you’re a Google Authorized Buyer or participant in Open Bidding, see integration guidance for Topics and Protected Audience.
  • If you’re a publisher platform working with Google Ads or Google Marketing Platform (Display & Video 360 or Campaign Manager 360), see integration guidance for Topics, Protected Audience and Multiple seller testing.
  • If you’re a measurement provider working with Google Marketing Platform (Display & Video 360 or Campaign Manager 360), see integration guidance for the Protected Audience API.
  • If you’re a publisher or ad tech provider working with Google Marketing Platform (Display & Video 360, Campaign Manager 360 or Search Ads 360), see integration guidance for the Attribution Reporting API.
We’re excited to continue building privacy-first innovations that help partners drive performance, earn revenue and get accurate measurement insights without third-party cookies.