How the Right Data Can Build Brand Value and Protect Consumer Privacy

We recently continued our discussion of third-party cookie deprecation with Ad Age Studio 30 and Chief Growth Officer Joanna Catalano, Managing Director, Global Accounts, Marie Fenner and ID5 CEO Mathieu Roche on the topic of "How the right data can build brand value and protect consumer privacy." Below, we share the key themes from the discussion centered on measurement, first-party data and how publishers can take advantage of their rightful time to shine. 

The efficacy of measurement and attribution post-third-party cookie

Despite proclamations of a “cookie apocalypse” over the last year, measurement won’t become unachievable once third-party cookies are retired. There are three key areas to focus on, according to Catalano:

1. Campaign reporting: Marketers and publishers will want to continue to see performance of viewability, reach, and click-through rate across segments. They should expect to see a decrease in total impressions, but an increase in click-through rate, since the data the industry will use for targeting impressions will be much more reliable. 

2. Match rate: One thing that will be key to understanding how valuable these unified identity systems are is match rate. In other words, how many of the IDs we recognize are also recognized by brands? Observing match rates pre- and post-third-party cookie will help determine if unified IDs are as reliable as third-party cookies.

3. Revenue attribution reporting: The revenue generated from ads and the ability to attribute that revenue to individual pageviews, users, segments, content types and more will be critical. The industry will also need to keep an eye on the average CPM pre- and post-third-party cookie as it’s likely that they will go up. 

Identity and data are not one in the same — but first-party data still counts for a lot

Generally speaking, a lot of the people who have invested in cookieless identification also happen to have a data-based business model, Roche said. 

“So they've conflated those two topics in saying, ‘Well, you know, the future is first-party data or the future is, you know, authenticated users, because their business model is tied to those topics. In reality, you have first-party data, but you can have third-party data attached to a universal ID...but it's not the core.”

Roche of ID5 explained that identity is the core, or the currency, that enables trading of assets — namely, data on customers. Brands and publishers need a way to connect information to an individual across the board, including when they're on their own sites and partner sites, at a greater scale. 

“What we need is a global currency to power digital advertising,” he said. “That's what identity is, right? That value attached to identities, intelligence, customer knowledge, all of that is the asset that will be enabled by currency.”

Having permissioned, first-party data does go a long way towards enabling the currency of identity, Fenner said. Authenticated users can receive value exchange in the form of offers to sign up for newsletters, donate money to a publication or access premium content via a subscription. Beyond reader revenue models and advertising, some publishers are dipping into e-commerce as a revenue stream. For example, The Telegraph uses affiliate marketing to advertise gardening equipment to readers of its Gardening section, and Stylist has a Strong Women section in which they advertise particular activewear brands.  

“By doing [this], you are actually leveraging the data you're collecting to hyper-personalize, but also at the same time, you're actually garnering even more data from there as well,” Fenner said. “So there's a much bigger revenue generation so that you do not just rely on advertising, but product diversification as well.”

The three Cs to keep in mind 

Fenner had a ready mantra for publishers preparing for the future without third-party cookies: “Try all the solutions so you’re not left in the dust, but stay on the right side of the law.” In particular, she recommended keeping in mind the “three Cs:”

1. Consent: Publishers must make sure they are doing the right thing and obtaining consent to open up the doors to collect more data in exchange for value.

2. Content: Premium journalism, personalized, for a price — you can do this once you have the data. 

3. Collaboration: Publishers can work together, whether it’s a universal ID or a consortium, to create scale critical to their survival. 

Catalano added: “Don't go into this with fear. There's so much information; people are having this discussion. Take advantage of the availability of options, take advantage of the fact that there's information widely available and be empowered by it and be creative with it.”

A challenging but worthwhile journey for publishers 

“Publishers have suffered from third-party cookies, because third-party cookies enable basically everybody anytime, anywhere to have access to your audience and your data,” Roche said. “And data leakage has been a huge problem. And it's 100 percent related to the availability of identity enabled by third-party cookies.” 

A shift away from third-party cookies will help publishers lock down their inventory and only offer it to a more exclusive group. Echoing a point we and our partners have shared over the last few months, publishers must take the time to really understand what the options are, the pros and cons and the level of technical integration needed. As many industry players and organizations have been saying for more than a year, adoption is necessary, simultaneously, on both the buy side and the sell side. 

“There is a huge opportunity for the publisher to regain some of that negotiation power, some of that control over your own data and your own assets that has been lost because of programmatic and because of third-party cookies over the past 10 years,” Roche said. “So now is the time.”