For brands, first-party data is unlocking the cookieless ecosystem

Bill Masterson, president, Publishers Clearing House Media

A dominant factor guiding the industry has been that cookies and mobile app IDs are vanishing and will be replaced by some mixture of new and emergent identity solutions. 

As a result, the market is alive with new and exciting alternatives to replace the third-party browser cookie and mobile device ID, and this space has come to dominate a great deal of mindshare in the industry. Google’s extension of the deprecation timeline doesn’t impact that ultimate trajectory; the cookieless future still looms large, and marketers are not off the hook.

For these identifiers to comply with emerging privacy standards — and the resulting changes to the standards enforced by the tech giants — they must root their source of truth in a direct, transparent value exchange with the consumer. Somewhere along that line, consumers must see enough value to disclose their data and agree to its use. They need to create such a value exchange, acquire users on those terms, and do so at a sufficient scale. Despite all the heightened attention on new identity solutions, few in the industry have asked where that moment of exchange and authentication takes place. 

Establishing a clear and transparent exchange

The short answer to when the exchange occurs is that it happens between companies and consumers. In the new identity ecosystem, zero-party or first-party data given directly by a consumer to an enterprise is the new source of truth for data-driven targeting without cookies. To a great extent, the vision of an addressable post-cookie standard rests on publishers’ ability to engage their audiences and provide an experience that merits the exchange of identity data. 

The most current, accurate and actionable information is provided when a brand can offer a value proposition to a user that is relevant, on-brand and welcomed by the consumer — a value proposition in exchange for which it makes sense to provide one’s information. In theory, it doesn’t matter what the underlying goods or services are. 

Publishers, retailers, social platforms, CTV providers and DTC companies offer legitimate value in exchange for data: Value consumers feel, recognize and understand. As brands seek alternatives for a cookieless future, they should look to partners who can facilitate direct relationships and legitimate value exchanges with their audience. 

Investing in partnerships to scale and enrich first-party data

As a strategic counter to the loss of cookies, brands need to invest in gathering their own first-party data as a means to keep their audiences addressable and their connection with the consumer intact. Many brands lack the means to acquire, enrich and scale first-party data on their own, and their products and services may not provide them with a legitimate and organic means to reach out to consumers in this way. 

They’ll need partners in this effort, and the partners best suited to help them are those with experience in capturing audiences at scale through on-brand value exchange. 

Ideal partners will be those delivering clear value exchanges for consumers that enable them to have developed a strong base of first-party data that brands can leverage to enrich their own data. Collecting first-party data is essential to brands, but even if they can accomplish this, it may not be enough. Finding partners to lean on who can build off of that existing data and develop it into a more robust set of data is crucial. 

As Google’s deprecation of third-party cookies draws closer, brands are turning to new identity solutions. Whatever the new solution, ensuring the value exchange between brand and consumer remains clear and transparent is a must. In some cases, it may require partners to facilitate more direct audience relationships. As brands move away from cookies, first-party data is becoming king, and partnerships may be vital to unlocking this data at scale for many. 

Sponsored By: PCH

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