Where publishing teams stand in their pursuit of third-party cookie alternatives

By Mike Petrella, vp of global partnerships, Yahoo

College students may choose to procrastinate when deadlines are extended, but this behavior is a thing of the past for adults. Or is it? Google’s delayed deprecation of third-party cookies in its Chrome browser is just that — a delay. While the proverbial final exam is not due for nearly two years, publishers are uniquely poised to prepare for the big day, with some of the answers already in hand.

When Google announced third-party cookie deprecation on Chrome, the programmatic ecosystem went into a frenzy. Addressability, targeting, measurement and attribution all faced significant new obstacles and, most importantly, billions of dollars in revenue hung in the balance. Publishers had to reprioritize their roadmaps to accelerate alternative revenue streams while finding new ways to engage with their users directly.

The delay won’t immediately solve these challenges, but it does provide some breathing room. The industry has time to ask questions, to better understand products and to make decisions that have long-term benefits. It’s important for publishers to take this moment to assess and think about how to use this newfound time to their advantage.

The last few years have witnessed major shifts in privacy regulation and consequently the identity sector has become a crowded space. Today, there is no silver bullet solution, and no one ID provider holds a majority of market share or assets that set them apart from others. Several players are vying for the same goal; publisher integration. In this dynamic landscape, how do publishers  best evaluate which solution offers the best potential for a future-proofed strategy?

Many of the current ID solutions marketed are built on a semi-permanent underlying identity — without direct consumer relationships at the core. These are band-aid solutions that perpetuate the real problem: commoditizing shared data. Here are a few ways the industry can use this time to identify and adopt long-lasting identity solutions.

Use Safari and Firefox as your sandbox

Third-party cookies are restricted in Safari and Firefox, representing about 40% of the market share in the U.S., according to StatCounter. Internal Yahoo data found these ITP (Intelligent Tracking Protection) browsers and iOS opted-out inventory deliver 30 to 50% lower yield compared to cookie and identity based inventory. Today 30% of impressions are already without identity or consent — a figure expected to grow to 75% post Chromageddon, according to Yahoo internal data.  But here’s the good news: alternative solutions built on first-party, opt-in data are well underway and working in cookieless environments. For example, based on testing across Yahoo owned and operated properties on Safari and Firefox, advertisers’ spend is 195% higher on supply that has implemented Yahoo ConnectID, a cookieless persistent identifier, than inventory without it. The time is now to adopt sustainable, privacy-forward solutions and test, test and test.

Build customer trust

Establish and nurture first-party data strategies with strong privacy and governance in mind. Respecting user privacy and choice is paramount in building trusted relationships with a first-party audience. Creating a genuine value exchange that clearly states how an audience’s data is used and enabling them to manage their privacy preferences easily are essential practices that can empower long-lasting, honest relationships with  consumers.

Solutions like Yahoo ConnectID don’t share their encryption keys with third parties. Open IDs do, which means less security and control for publishers and a lack of transparency for consumers. Identity solutions should have  strong security and governance for increased user data protection.

Innovate for the future

Incorporate new tools and products into an identity strategy without the risk. By 2023, adopting solutions that preserve identity will only be beneficial for a limited inventory. This means that now is the time to test and embrace innovative alternatives for identity-less environments. 

Advanced contextual targeting keeps evolving, enabling advertisers to deliver personalization to high-value audiences, provide consumers with relevant experiences and help publishers monetize their non-addressable traffic. For example, Next-Gen Solutions is Yahoo’s approach to advanced contextual targeting that goes beyond content to infer audience characteristics in a privacy-centric manner for identity-less environments. It complements Yahoo ConnectID and drives monetization of non-addressable inventory.

Forge new partnerships

Scale sustainable and people-first identity through expanded partnerships, while being selective. Work with partners that own their data, whose long-term strategy isn’t dependent on third parties or intermediaries and align with a team’s existing identity and privacy strategy.

Choosing the right partner to help navigate current and upcoming identity and consumer privacy headwinds is critical. Make the right choice by seeking partners who value transparency and collaboration and have established sustainable solutions that can evolve with your business and ongoing industry changes. Ask the tough questions: Do they have direct, sustainable, consumer relationships? How is their source data collected? How are accountability and governance done so they won’t get challenged by existing or upcoming regulations? Are they offering solutions for today, tomorrow and years to come?

More than 3,000 publisher domains have integrated Yahoo ConnectID and more than 400 advertisers and agencies are directly activating their first-party data through the identifier.

The industry is in a constant state of change. Take advantage of the lull, do the extra work, test new partners, try new technologies, and measure and optimize results.


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