The deprecation of third-party cookies is the perfect opportunity for the industry to build a better infrastructure for the open web, writes ID5’s Joanna Burton.

As we say goodbye to 2021 and step into a new year, we’re also taking another huge step closer to the major advertising industry shift everyone is talking about: Google’s third-party cookie deprecation.

This deadline may seem like it’s a long way off, but there is a real challenge in finding the right identity alternative, and this process can take much longer than you think.

We know that, without third-party cookies, brands can’t advertise the right messages to the right users at the right time online. Yet, more importantly, third-party cookies and the process of cookie-matching were never perfect to begin with, causing a handful of issues with:

  • Privacy compliance – cookie-matching does not comply with the privacy requirements of the GDPR and CCPA with regards to control and transparency.
  • Data leakage – cookie-matching enables companies to access user data whether they have business relationships with the publisher/advertiser or not, therefore putting the user’s data at risk.

In other words, the introduction of a better identity alternative has been long overdue.

Today, brands are presented with a whole host of different solutions and tools for navigating the ‘cookie-less’ future. Yet, the alternative that comes out on top – by effectively replacing third-party cookie capabilities and solving their issues – is that of the shared or universal ID solution, as proven via recent test campaigns.

Universal IDs are alternative identifiers that enable user-level identification across websites and platforms without third-party cookies. They optimise the number of addressable users and enable campaign strategies such as targeting and measurement, benefiting both the buyers and sellers of data-driven digital advertising. To identify the same user ID across domains, Universal IDs rely on the collection of signals that publishers provide, such as hashed email addresses, page URL, IP address and more.

Since Google announced the demise of third-party cookies, there has been a proliferation of shared IDs. Let’s take a look at the process advertisers need to take in choosing the right shared ID solution in order to prepare for the new, cookieless, era of digital advertising.

  1. Start by evaluating your current reliance on third-party cookies for targeting, optimisation and measurement to gain a complete understanding of the solution you need in place to continue and enhance your campaigns. Reach out to your technology partners to recognise the solutions they are building and integrating with and the capabilities they enable. If prioritised, this step should take around one month to complete.
  2. Familiarise yourself with privacy-first shared ID solutions. Although all shared IDs are conceptually similar, there are key differences between solutions, so it’s important to evaluate them all individually.
  3. Analyse your partners’ compliance with your chosen solution/s and ensure that they are aligned with the changes you are putting in place. This is essential in gaining a comprehensive understanding of how committed your partners are to support your transition to the cookie-less future. This step will take around two to three months to complete.
  4. Run a test campaign with cookie-less traffic in Safari and Firefox to fully gauge the effectiveness of your chosen solution/s. You will need to collaborate with your tech partners and a chosen publisher/s in order to successfully run the campaigns. This step will take around one month to complete.
  5. Adapt your KPI and media performance dashboards by incorporating the shared user ID into your analysis. You can then accurately measure the solution’s performance via future advertising campaigns. This step will take around one month to complete.

From start to finish, the successful implementation of all five steps takes around eight months, if not longer, to accomplish. By starting today and leveraging shared IDs earlier, you also have the added benefit of being able to address both Safari and Firefox’ traffic, which is already cookie-less and therefore, not addressable.

The deprecation of third-party cookies is the perfect opportunity for the industry to build a better infrastructure for the open web, one that increases efficiency, respects user privacy and supports publishers rather than driving more advertising dollars to the walled gardens. Brands and their agencies are in the perfect position to drive this journey forward and shape the future of digital advertising.