Five Questions for Evaluating Cookieless Publisher Solutions

The current global pandemic and recession have provided a significant traffic boon to the publishing industry, as consumers turn to trusted news sites daily or even hourly to stay informed and educated. There is an undeniable demand for information, and publishers are seemingly well-positioned to deliver supply.

However, an unfortunate side effect is that publishers are stuck in a paradox of skyrocketing viewership and loss of ad revenue. According to a recent survey conducted by Advertiser Perceptions, only 58% of advertisers feel comfortable replacing coronavirus-focused messaging with product-specific ads, while 44% find it difficult to procure new creative assets addressing social distancing guidelines and lingering stay-at-home orders.

Not only are advertisers wary, but advertising spend has been reduced in an attempt to conserve resources during these uncertain times.

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Navigating the complex operating environment in the wake of COVID-19 isn’t the only uphill battle publishers today face. In their periphery, Publishers still have the imminent obsoletion of the third-party cookie to solve for. With less than 20 months to go until Google Chrome deprecates third-party cookies, publishers must bring this challenge into plain view, and prioritize a plan to adopt an alternative that addresses each of the workflows that break in the absence of third-party cookies.

Not to mention, many publishers still don’t realize that 40% of traffic (on Safari and Firefox) is already cookieless, a fact that should serve as an accelerant across the industry.

Unfortunately, wading through the crowded marketplace of cookieless solutions has grown increasingly complicated, as publishers work to determine which option checks all the proverbial boxes: from privacy compliance to outcome-based measurement and beyond. This criteria is important always, but certainly more so during an economic downturn, as maximizing addressability and protecting return-on-ad-spend (ROAS) can make or break a business.

While the needs of each publisher may be slightly different, generally there are five questions every publisher should ask when evaluating whether or not a cookieless solution is right for them. Any solution that satisfies these criteria will likely enable publishers to sustain and grow ad revenue, while simultaneously establishing and building trust with individuals and key partners.

1. Does the solution ensure a positive customer experience and address current and future data privacy concerns?

The right solution will complement a publisher’s authentication strategy, which ultimately empowers consumers with ultimate control and transparency with regard to their data (e.g., through a simple-to-understand “opt out.”). On the technical side, the solution must ensure no hashed emails or personally identifiable information (PII) is being passed in the bidstream and that PII isn’t stored. Moreover, publishers should adopt solutions that prioritize meaningful, person- and privacy-first experiences now and in the future. Addressability remains the key to authenticating data and protecting the consumer experience in the new era of the open internet.

2. Can it be customized to support your campaign?

Cookieless publisher solutions should support customizable campaigns that can be adjusted based on behavioral data and audience segments to ensure the highest payoff. “Spray-and-pray” tactics are a relic. Data-driven consumer personalization increases the value of ad inventory, making every dollar spent more effective and accountable.

3. Does it enable global frequency capping?

Many cookieless solutions on the market today have proven effective in only one browser API, making frequency capping—the process of restricting the amount of times a unique visitor to a website is shown a specific ad—impossible. Therefore, by utilizing an identifier that is compatible across channels, publishers can limit banner burnout at all touchpoints and mitigate the resulting reduction in click-through rates and performance that an advertiser currently sees in today’s walled garden closed ecosystems.

4. Are cross-platform campaigns possible and measurable?

With marketing budgets shrinking during a global recession, every dollar needs to be more effective, and advertisers must be able to reach individuals through their preferred channels. To that end, publishers should prioritize solutions that eliminate data silos between platforms.

For example, as the months-long stay-at-home order pushes more eyes to streaming services and phone apps, the need for solutions that enable targeting and measurability across connected TV (CTV), in-app and digital inventory greatly increases. Choosing solutions that allow publishers to provide cross-platform addressability enables greater agility and scalability.

5. Is it possible to control inefficiencies?

While eradicating inefficiencies has always been important, in an economic recession where every marketing dollar is scrutinized, it’s critical that marketers—and their publisher partners—streamline operations. Most notably, this includes eliminating duplication—the unintentional buying of the same audiences over and over again. This enables true incremental reach for the most effective and desirable outcomes, which is usually sales.

Publishers can’t afford to settle for solutions that produce soft or nonexistent returns on investment. Even now, seemingly invincible publishers are facing insolvency. Publishers must find new revenue opportunities by investing in solutions that meet and exceed the gold standard in addressability and measurability.