AdTech Q&A: Identity, third-party cookies and rearchitecting advertising

Posted by IAB Australia On May 28, 2020 Research & Resources

Identity, third-party cookies and re-architecting advertising for the future

Identity and identifiers in Digital Advertising remains very hot topics for our members.

With the usage of third-party cookies for retargeting, cross-site tracking and ad-serving being blocked by all major browsers by 2022, we were keen to review the potential ramifications of these changes with some of our members.

We also discuss whether this challenge for the industry can become an opportunity for us all to significantly improve the way that digital marketing currently functions operationally moving forwards.  We hope you find this useful…

Adele Wieser, Regional Managing Director, APAC, Index Exchange

Do you see the forthcoming changes as a unique opportunity to genuinely start putting the consumer first and establish a more trusted programmatic ecosystem?

Absolutely, the deprecation of the third party cookie has ignited a revolution in digital media. It began as a response to consumer trust and privacy regulations – third-party cookies sometimes led to harmful practices like growth in ad blocking, fingerprinting, and even the occasional bad actor draining battery and device usage, causing user trust in digital to decline rapidly. Nowadays, users aren’t concerned about sharing their data in the open web, they’re concerned about losing control of it.

In response to these concerns, we see the death of the third-party cookie as another step forward in the journey towards rebuilding trust in the open web. From our perspective, we believe accountability is essential to both the growth and sustainability of our industry, and we’ve been crafting people-based marketing solutions with accountability top-of-mind (designed to facilitate a one-to-one relationship between trusted publishers and users).  At the end of the day, any solution we’re building should focus on what’s best for the end-user and for the ecosystem as a whole.

How has Index Exchange been working to enable people-based advertising through common identifiers and reduce any reliance on legacy third-party cookie solutions?

As mentioned, we’ve been working on solutions for the last three years and are focusing our investments on unlocking people-based marketing solutions for the open web with various partners (including LiveRamp). From our perspective,  the key is to collaboratively build people-based solutions and common identifiers with consumer trust at their core, so that the entire ecosystem can benefit. If consumer trust is the foundational framework upon which responsible products are built, people-based identifiers can become the currency of this trust, helping to move from users to publishers and platforms, safely and securely. This is the lens that the entire industry should be looking through to ensure we can move away from our reliance on third-party cookies, and drive more value and addressability into the marketplace.

Ben Campbell, Director of Advertising & Data Products, Nine

How has Nine been investing time and effort into addressable solutions and authentication strategies in preparation for the inevitable degradation of third-party cookies?

Because cookies have never been supported on connected TVs, our strategy to build an authenticated user data asset and create back end data infrastructure that enables targeting and measurement in cookie-less environments began 4 years ago. We have had an established addressable solution in place that enables targeting on web, app and connected TV for a number of years across 9Now. Following the merger with Fairfax we now have in excess of 11 million registered user profiles in our database, so we are quite far on this journey and well positioned for the upcoming Chrome changes. That said, growing the authenticated user base across our websites and apps is still very high on Nine’s agenda. We have recently rolled out single sign on for live radio listening across the Nine Radio digital properties (2GB, 3AW, 4BC, 6PR) and will be making product changes to the publishing assets (The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review) within the coming months to further scale our authenticated user database.

It’s worth pointing out that while support for 3rd party cookies will be phased out by Chrome, publisher 1st party cookies will be unaffected – allowing publishers to collect analytics data, perform useful functions that provide a good user experience and track user behaviour across their site. This means that although growing our authenticated user base is important, it won’t be a dependency for providing publisher 1st party targeting solutions for advertisers when Chrome’s changes are introduced.

With first-party data becoming increasingly critical for Publishers moving forwards, how important is it to establish a genuinely transparent and mutually beneficial value exchange based upon consumer trust?

I think it’s always been important to provide consumers with transparency around what data a publisher is collecting, what they’re going to use it for and how the consumer can opt out of their data being used. The best way to drive dialogue with consumers around the exchange of data for free content is for publishers to maintain privacy policies that contain this information in simple language and also provide a mechanism for the user to withdraw consent for their data being used to serve interest based advertising. Publishers have an obligation to self-regulate by implementing best practice data privacy policies and management. Those publishers who do that will establish trust with their users and create a beneficial value exchange.

Dan Richardson, Head of Data – ANZ, Verizon Media

How have Verizon Media been investing time and effort into preparing for the gradual demise of third-party cookies as an identifier?

Identity is critical throughout the entire ad buying chain, as well as to deliver a seamless user experience on site. At Verizon Media we understand first-party data is key in moving forward, and with that our preparations fall into two clear camps.

The first is growing our member base of logged-in monthly active users. Since becoming Verizon Media in 2019 we’ve invested significantly in providing premium, helpful and unique content to our consumers, with new video interview series including Yahoo Finance’s The New Investors and our entertainment chat show BUILD by Yahoo, whilst adding a bigger value element with the launch of Yahoo Mail 6 which dials up the utilities around e-commerce, coupons and deals. In Australia we’re seeing on average 100,000 new members a month as a result.

The second focus is on evolving our Ad Platforms to receive and build audiences from deterministic datasets such as customer email lists, and mobile advertiser IDs as well. Brands can log into their private account, do the match and start activating. We’d also like to get to a similar place with the data management platforms. The current integrations between DMPs and the buy side (DSPs) are still reliant on cookies which is a problem. Moving to an encrypted user ID based on PII will be required.

With first-party data becoming increasingly critical in advertising, what recommendations do Verizon Media have for advertisers and publishers keen to adopt responsible data practices that meet the ever-changing expectations of consumers?

Consumers expect their personal data to be earned, not just harvested. With accelerated adoption of digital platforms during the pandemic, consumers are likely to feel even more violated by the lack of transparency around how their data is used, in particular for advertising.

Opt-in, first-party data and CRM lists will be the most direct and future-proof way by which brands can connect with their consumers. To set themselves up for future success, brands must focus on two things:

  1. Upholding stringent privacy standards to maintain consumer trust through these challenging times;
  2. Sustaining consumer engagement with intelligent brand building campaigns to maintain and grow vital first-party databases.

For both brands and publishers transparency needs to be humanised – meaning that it needs to be easy for consumers to understand and act upon. Be it unique content, e-commerce, subscription models or reward programs, we need to offer meaningful omnichannel consumer experiences that solve real-life challenges and resonate in these trying times.

Christopher Blok, Enterprise Sales – ANZ, LiveRamp

How has LiveRamp been working with publishers and brands to prepare them for this transition to a cookie-free future?

With the deprecation of third-party cookies, publishers, and brands must build a more nuanced understanding of who their audience is to more accurately identify the most relevant content for their audience. LiveRamp’s open and neutral Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS) helps publishers and brands to navigate these unchartered waters and prepare for the imminent cookie-free future. This solution enables publishers and marketers to continue to activate data driven strategies, using an omnichannel people-based identifier, all whilst being able to provide audience insights and measurement on the inventory being purchased.

As the industry moves beyond the cookie to cookieless solutions, there will be a strong shift towards the creation of a consumer-centric ecosystem that facilitates a crucial value exchange between publishers and consumers.

How likely is it that we can enable consumers to become increasingly willing to share more data in a fair value exchange with those companies that are open and transparent in their data collection and management practices?

At LiveRamp, we fundamentally believe the ecosystem needs to change and put consumers in control of their data. LiveRamp is working to build an ecosystem built on a trusted value of exchange of content or services in exchange for data (email address). This new ecosystem brings both publishers and marketers closer to the consumer and also close to each other.

In a time where consumers have an unprecedented selection in what they choose to consume, marketers must prioritise trust with consumers. We see both Brands and Publishers who uphold the highest standards of data ethics, are better positioned to cultivate this trust and establish long-term brand loyalty with their audiences. Brands must also demonstrate how they add value to the lives of consumers, to support an ecosystem where they willingly engage with trusted first parties, brands, and publishers.

IAB Australia

IAB Australia is the peak trade association for online advertising in Australia. As one of over 43 IAB offices globally and with a rapidly growing membership, the role of the IAB is to support sustainable and diverse investment in digital advertising across all platforms in Australia.