With the deprecation of third-party cookies and Apple’s new stipulations, which require publishers to obtain consent from users to track them through its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), we’re at a pivotal moment in digital advertising history. The need for greater trust has created an opportunity for the industry to move to a more open and honest ecosystem that prioritises consumers, and does a better job of communicating the value exchange, whilst upholding the highest standards of consumer privacy and maintaining addressability.
The importance of authenticated data
There are plenty of ways to ensure end-to-end success across both the buy-side and the sell-side. For example, when publishers create more meaningful first-party relationships with their users, they place themselves in a better position to demonstrate their value to marketers since consented users have greater engagement, giving marketers increased confidence relative to their media spend and campaign performance.
Publishers and marketers that prioritise addressability through authenticated traffic in a privacy-centric way, will ultimately triumph; it could well be ‘game over’ for those that don’t pivot.
Moving from third-party cookies to people-based addressability
It’s important to acknowledge that the third-party cookie has never been a perfect solution given its limitations and lack of transparency – hence why it is being phased out. Yet, for all its shortcomings, it does offer numerous benefits for publishers and marketers such as retargeting, personalisation, frequency capping and measurement. So for publishers to succeed without third-party cookies, they need to refocus efforts on building out authentication strategies that aren’t reliant on device-based identifiers such as cookies or mobile IDs. Simultaneously, they need to ensure any solution they adopt is neutral, sustainable, and fully interoperable across channels – including across display, mobile and connected TV (CTV).
The time for change is now
There is no benefit to publishers and marketers delaying the move to a more sustainable addressability strategy. The industry has been given a window of opportunity to change tactics before browser and device-based restrictions are finalised. Those who haven’t yet started this journey need to truly understand that addressability is too important to be ignored. After all, it provides a direct link to audiences and without it a publisher's ability to target, measure and provide detailed attribution for marketing efforts will be eradicated. The shift to an advertising ecosystem built on trust is already underway and the time to embrace it is now. But what does it look like in practice?
Authentication in practice
Ultimately it starts with publisher authentications. This can be achieved in several ways, for example an individual registering on a website, signing up for a newsletter or accessing a community forum with their email address. In doing so, consumers demonstrate their willingness to participate in a value exchange for meaningful content, experiences and more. Robust authentication strategies enable publishers to leverage first-party data to deliver better services, experiences and ongoing engagement with a user in a privacy-first way.
Consumer privacy is paramount
Yet fully unlocking the potential of people-based audiences on the open internet requires investment in infrastructure and technologies that maintain consumer privacy and protect personal data. That means questionable solutions – like fingerprinting or hashed emails – won’t work long-term, as they enable reidentification and do not require consumer consent. Instead, publishers and marketers ought to focus on adopting solutions that ensure personal data is not compromised in any way, and that identifiers in the bidstream are encoded on a partner-by-partner basis.
Enhancing first-party data relationships is a win-win-win situation for everyone: not only is it rooted in consumer trust, it also improves publisher yields and enables marketers to maintain and expand addressable reach. No advertiser wants to employ a ‘spray-and-pray’ approach when they have the ability to target their audiences more precisely.
The industry may be undergoing a seismic shift but it’s a positive transformation, from closed and untrustworthy, to open and honourable. Publishers and advertisers hold the potential to create a more competitive marketplace, increasing scale regardless of where consumers are spending their time. And by implementing meaningful authentication strategies, the industry can maintain end-to-end addressability in an ecosystem where the only constant is change.