In a cookieless world, publishers are embracing new approaches to personalized UX

Asaf Shamly, CEO and co-founder, Browsi

With user experience at the forefront of many publishers’ minds, the eventual deprecation of third-party cookies is bound to wreak havoc for those who haven’t quite figured out how to adjust their ad model to the coming change.

The problem is well defined at this point: They can’t afford, figuratively and literally, to sacrifice their ad revenue to produce a better UX, yet they need the latter to drive the former. It’s all part of the game publishers play when relying on advertising as a source of revenue.

The good news is that there is enough space on a website to find a balance between offering a desirable UX and running a sustainable ad model. What will see publishers through is the strategic implementation of ad tech and a bit of reimagining regarding how they approach data.

Individual experience and relationships are foundational to acquiring first-party data

Whenever it actually happens, the transition from cookies will likely result in a shift toward a mix of contextual data, identity solutions, direct relationships between brands and publishers and, quite possibly, additional factors from Google (as soon as it decides on what type of curveball it wants to throw to the industry). 

While publishers will have to wait and see what particular solution or combination comes out on top, one thing is certain: prioritizing strong audience relationships and a deep understanding of users will be critical. There is so much talk regarding first-party data, and rightly so, but the emphasis for publishers must remain on users and their experiences. Acquiring first-party data becomes impossible without a positive user experience that keeps audiences coming back and offering information. 

It’s a simple equation: the more emphasis is placed on understanding each audience member, creating meaningful and relevant sessions and retaining them, the more value will be created from the aforementioned solutions. On a fundamental level, what publishers want is also what advertisers want — to place ads on a site that offers a positive UX.

Dynamic user behaviors demand uniquely optimized experiences

Publishers place so much attention on the identity of the users — and the content served to them — that gaining a deep understanding of their behaviors is often challenging. 

Therein lie both the problem and the opportunity. Static approaches to audience understanding overlook the fact that even a single user has dynamic browsing habits. The reality is the same person can have different content consumption preferences across sessions and sites. On some sites, a user may want to catch up quickly on what’s happening and skim through; on others, they dive in and pay more attention.

Varying scrolling habits, different devices and a myriad of other dynamic conditions need to be accounted for as they make each person experience content optimally in different scenarios. In a way, cookies were and still are blinding and diverting publishers from fulfilling a higher potential. People are dynamic. Hence, publishers need to adjust websites to represent their audience’s momentary behaviors and needs accurately.

AI solutions personalize UX and enhance monetization opportunities

The promise of real-time insights — from how users browse the content to how they engage with ads and everything in between- can only be accomplished through artificial intelligence that gathers and analyzes data. An AI-driven approach helps ensure that not only two users get equally relevant and meaningful experiences but also that the same user on the same page receives an optimized experience as they scroll.

The goal is to identify in real-time how users behave on a specific site, then adapt to that and create tailored user experiences. Based on viewability rates, CTAs and other actions and factors, a dedicated AI solution for personalized ad placement and real-time ad delivery helps by showing highly individualized and flexible layouts without compromising the UX and impacting ad dollars.

By shifting the paradigm from static identification to real-time behavioral and circumstantial analysis, it’s possible to deliver a personalized user experience that doubles down on the page layout and circles back to the individual user.

When all is said and done, data and identity will play a significant role in monetization and ad tech, but so will a publisher’s UX. Building loyal audiences is heavily dependent on it.

There is no doubt that the impending phase-out of third-party cookies will radically change the advertising ecosystem, but publishers have succeeded before, and they will succeed again. Many will continue to prosper without them — but only those who stay ahead of the change by focusing on short-term opportunities and taking preemptive action.

Sponsored by: Browsi

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