Google to retire DoubleClick and AdWords names in a rebrand of its ad business

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Credit: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Google is rebranding its ad business and in so doing is ditching the DoubleClick and Ad Words names, among others, in a cosmetic realignment that signals bigger changes ahead for advertisers and publishers.

On Tuesday, Google announced that it would no longer go to market with its long-standing ad products. AdWords is now Google Ads and DoubleClick will go by Google Marketing Platform and Google Ad Manager.

While the names are changing, the core of the products would remain largely the same; advertisers can still plan and buy their ads in the same way and work with the same technology partners.

"The underlying products are not changing," says Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google's svp of ads, during a question and answer session with reporters in New York on Tuesday. "This is a better representation of what our products are and more importantly where they need to go."

Google executives said the rebranding was years in the making driven by advertiser demand for a more seamless, less confusing platform. The rebrand aims to streamline the ad offering by integrating products like DoubleClick for Publishers and Google Ad Exchange into one Google Ad Manager. But it also signals bigger mar-tech ambitions ahead.

Google Marketing Platform unifies Google Analytics and DoubleClick ad products, so brands can manage the data they get from their websites and digital properties and their ad buying and measurement in one place.

Google said advertisers and publishers won't have to change much in the way of how they work with its products. They will keep all the same technology partners and will be able to use the same methods of payment, the company says. However, advertisers see the rebrand as just the start of broader changes coming to Google's business.

"Google is transforming itself into an enterprise caliber sales and technology provider," says Mac Delaney, svp of media, investment and innovation at Merkle. "To do that, Google needs to reframe who they are."

Google is streamlining the ad business in a way that will position the company to look more like a marketing technology platform, competing for enterprise relationships with Adobe, Oracle and others.

"Google has a fragmented system right now," says a digital ad agency executive, who spoke about Google's plans on condition of anonymity. "I'm glad they renamed the business, but they have a way to go before they bring all the pieces together."

Google's relationship to the ad world could change, too, the agency exec says, as it offers brands a more simplified ad platform. Those brands might not need agencies as much to handle their digital advertising.

Brands will get a full picture of their customers by combining the ads, data and measurement in the new marketing platform, says Dan Taylor, Google's managing director of global display.

"It's designed to offer marketers a choice of what media they buy, how they buy it and how they measure it," Taylor says.

Google says there won't be changes to how brands pay for ads, even though the two main ad-buying products DoubleClick Bid Manager and DoubleClick Campaign Manager now unite under one product called Display and Video 360.

"In the near-term, Display and Video 360 will bring together the functionality of DBM and DCM but will not be a consolidation of the products themselves," a Google spokeswoman said by email.

However, the digital ad exec expects Google to consolidate the products eventually which would require some restructuring to how advertisers pay for their ad buying.

The changes to the ad platform will start rolling out in July, Google said.

Google is laying aside two highly recognizable names in digital advertising, names that have been foundational to the entire industry. It launched AdWords in 2003 and bought DoubleClick in 2007 for $3.1 billion.

DoubleClick was founded in 1996 and became almost synonymous with internet advertising among marketers.

"What DoubleClick did for Google, it had a seismic impact on its business and the entire ad industry," Delaney says. "So if it's going to dissolve the brand, you should expect whatever is next to be equally transformative."

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