I is for ID
As part of our A-Z of Adtech series, this week our Programmatic Lead, Paul Gubbins, speaks on the need to find an alternative ID to the cookie.
Q: Why do we need to look for an alternative to the cookie?
There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, traffic that originates from devices such as desktop that support cookies is either flat or in decline. Secondly, consumers today are screen agnostic, they move between browser and app-based environments (mobile or increasingly CTV) to consume content. Rarely is one ID available to document this behaviour holistically.
Thirdly, the proliferation of connected devices and screens in the smart homes and the cities of tomorrow will create even more need for an ID where the cookie will not be supported, especially if advertisers want to engage consumers in a targeted way on these screens. Finally, device IDs can still be passed on in the app supply ecosystem, but post-GDPR and Pre CCPA, for how long is anybody’s guess.
Q: People are still online, they are now just accessing the internet via mobile rather than desktop browsers. Why can’t we just leverage third-party cookies there for targeting?
That has always kind of worked in the past, but not anymore. Safari now has a feature called Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) that restricts the use of 3PCs.
Q: Is there no workaround? Chrome is still a massive mobile browser, can companies just target users there instead, right?
Correct. You can do that today but there is increasing speculation that Chrome may follow Safari and block 3PC’s due to GDPR concerns. If anybody doubts their ability to play gatekeeper, just look at recent PR that talks to their blocking of ‘bad ads’ on Chrome globally.
Q: Why is this is causing so much concern in the industry?
Well, just imagine if you could not explain holistic reach, frequency, and attribution to your board after spending millions on digital advertising. These are not new shiny AI related terms but the basics of advertising. Take away a common form of identification (the cookie) and all of a sudden, everybody becomes partially sighted.
Well, not quite everybody. GAFA et al will always be able to provide 20/20 vision into their environments. They have scaled deterministic and people-based identifiers that let advertisers target users in a screen-agnostic way. This enables buyers to manage all of the basic housekeeping requirements of a media plan such as reach and attribution.
Q: What about those that are outside of the walls?
Well, many coalitions and JVs are now active to try and tackle digital identity. I won’t go into each one as much has already been written about them but what I will say is that there seem to be two distinct types emerging.
The first: A more robust equivalent to the cookie, this will improve match rates between adtech vendors (think DMP – DSP – SSP) resulting in greater performance for both buyers and sellers when targeting browsers that support cookies.
The second: A screen agnostic ID that will either be probabilistic or deterministic in nature. This will let buyers & sellers better target/segment users as they move between screens, browsers & apps.