Goodbye GAM Spotlights. Hello Attribution Reporting API? Why not try AdFixus First-Party Attribution?

February 22, 2024

What's happening?

Google Ad Manager’s “Activities and conversions” tracking also known as “Spotlight” have been discontinued on February 22, 2024 as part of Google’s phased third-party cookie deprecation. Publishers were notified of this on January 15, 2024.

The deprecation of GAM Spotlights means that Activity tags, activity groups, CPA line items, and the Data Transfer NetworkActivities file will no longer serve after this date (although, historical data will be available for several months).

To replace the functionality of Spotlight measurement, Google has advised their customers to instead adopt the Attribution Reporting API (ARA) from Google Privacy Sandbox. This is not an easy decision to simply make as it is unclear whether the ARA is poised to be a sufficient substitute for Spotlights.

The most pressing concern with ARA is that it does notwork across all browsers – today, it is supported on Chrome only.

Limitations / Concerns of the ARA

CMA UK (Competition and Markets Authority), the IAB Tech Lab, and Google’s Privacy Sandbox teams have commented heavily on Privacy Sandbox solutions in recent weeks. Here are some noteworthy comments related to the Attribution Reporting API.

  • Google’s proposed approach to attribution differs from the approach taken by other browsers, which means that there may be limited interoperability of ARA with other solutions.
  • The Attribution Reporting API may not be suited for cost-per-conversion billing needs, because of the noise added to event-level and summary reports.
  • Multi-touch attribution will not be supported via the ARA.
  • Additional costs are imposed on DSPs.
  • Real-time campaign optimization based on any kind of behavior or purchase attribution as it is traditionally understood will not be possible.
  • If advertisers are not confident that where they place their ads are delivering leads or conversions due to limited attribution support, they are likely to shift their investments elsewhere. This shift could result in reduced demand for ad placements, leading to lower ad revenue for publishers and media companies. Furthermore, without the ability to provide detailed attribution insights, publishers may find it challenging to attract advertisers and may lose out on valuable partnerships.
  • ARA sets limits of a max of 3 domains and eight conversion types per advertiser.

AdFixus First-Party Attribution

The AdFixus mission was born from recognising the fundamental shifts required of our industry to support a privacy-first internet. New solutions that are privacy-by-design whilst enabling internet businesses to still thrive are not easy to build and adopt. The freemium internet was not built overnight, and neither will the privacy-first internet.

Necessarily, the industry looks to existing large ecosystem vendors (Apple, Google, Facebook, etc.) to work alongside regulators and the W3C to help propel the industry forward. An equally important part of this is the need for new and innovative approaches to be developed to drive real substantial change that benefits all.

AdFixus First-Party Attribution solution utilises our patented identity technology to enable businesses to conduct attribution measurement without data degradation across all browsers, whilst remaining compliant and respecting user privacy.

Challenges with attribution today:

  1. Data collected is often a subset of total real data due to browser privacy limitations.
  2. Data is not uniform across publisher and advertiser – clicks, impressions, post-view and campaign metrics.
  3. Data collection has a long lag time and campaign managers / publishers can’t optimise in a timely manner.
  4. Data requires a common identification method that involves consumer PII.
  5. You do not own the tracking data. Instead, it is often owned by the publisher and/or 3rd party vendors.

AdFixus First-Party Attribution:

  1. Correct your analytics toolset (GA4, AA etc.) and accurately measure returning users (across all browsers, including Safari).
  2. Full campaign analytics and advertiser-owned data verification capability (on all browsers, including Safari).
  3. Measurement of clicks and impressions via first-party cookies.
  4. Measurement of post-view engagement across all your channels, including ad unit, campaign, insertion order, line item, creative, etc.
  5. Real-time data collection and analytics (within seconds).
  6. Zero PII.
  7. Independent.
  8. You own the data collection.


Whilst there is value in testing new solutions such as the ARA – it is important to not rely solely upon these and instead to adopt a comprehensive approach. Organisations should seek to employ solutions that are future-proofed against ongoing privacy changes, supported across all browsers, and can be fully owned and activated by themselves.

If you would like to trial AdFixus First-Party Attribution solution for your business, reach out to our team via

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