Are Publishers Finding Alternatives to Third-Party Cookies?


Google’s announcement in January that it would end support for third-party cookies on its Chrome browser within two years effectively set a deadline for the digital advertising ecosystem to come up with alternatives. VAN spoke with publishers to hear how they’re preparing for the change, and whether they’re seeing viable alternatives to the third-party cookie emerging.

Jonathan Lewis, Head of Digital & Partnership Innovation, Channel 4

We had a line of sight into the third-party cookie situation for the last 12 months, so we wanted to build a suite of products in recognition of the fact that first-party data was going to become more important.

The audience targeting solution on All 4 is predicated on first-party data – we have around 23 million registered users, and around 70 percent of those users have given us postcode data. They’re logged on when using All 4, so it’s 100 percent addressable. And we use that data to offer audiences based on demographics, similar to our linear channels, as well as interest-based segments.

We also have a panel of about 6000 users who we survey, and their behaviour is tracked. Using that data, we’ve developed around 25 behavioural audiences that can be targeted against.

We’ve had those products in place for a number of years now, but we recently launched the next iteration of those products, which we call the ‘Advanced Data Suite’.

The hero product is what we call ‘BRANDM4TCH’, which lets customers bring their own first-party data and match that with All 4 users. We’re using InfoSum’s safe harbour technology so no data is shared, it’s all held in separate bunkers and matched using InfoSum’s algorithms. We also work with Mediarithmics which lets us scale up those matched segments into modelled, scaled segments which can be bought across the All 4 platform.

Camilla Child, Head of Commercial Data Strategy, The Telegraph

Since October 2017, Telegraph Media Group has been focused on a subscriber-first strategy underpinned by a long-term investment in its digital transformation. The value our readers are placing on our quality journalism is evidenced in our consistent subscription growth, and we are well on the way to reaching our aim of 10 million registrants and 1 million subscribers by 2023.

This wealth of first-party audience insight has enabled us to launch Telegraph Unity, an accurate data matching solution powered by InfoSum that uses advanced statistical modelling to help brands target loyal, lapsed or new customers without relying on cookies or either party having to share their data with one another.

We are also exploring the power of semantic and tonal analysis of our content, using advanced contextual targeting to augment our cookieless capabilities and open up more premium inventory to advertisers that can otherwise become blocked by blunt keyword-based methods.

Finally, we are continually evolving our measurement initiative, Metrics That Matter, to help advertisers understand the behavioural effectiveness of their campaigns, not just the clicks and efficiency. This type of high-quality measurement and understanding will be crucial as we progress to a cookieless future.

Steven Conway, Commercial Data Partner, Guardian News & Media

There is a real opportunity for better advertising and better practice as we become less reliant on third-party cookies, and less reliant on ad tech intermediaries. The days of buying audiences across the web are limited and for high-quality audience data, brands will need to work closely with publishers or partners like Ozone. Developments in first-party audience matching using privacy-safe, compliant methods look very exciting and could offer more opportunities for publishers with direct relationships with their readers.

More specifically, technologies which leverage a smart use of data whilst adhering to privacy regulations and concerns – such as privacy safe bunkers – show promise. The ones I’m most excited about look to restore some balance to our damaged ecosystem, as opposed to ones which build on and facilitate the current practises.

Caroline Engström, Head of Publisher Partnerships, Leeads

First-party cookies in combination with Universal ID solutions, like ID5, is one of the possible ways forward, since these won’t be blocked by browsers. Universal ID solutions let publishers send their first-party data to third parties without revealing domain or identity. Our challenge right now is to get the DSPs on board.

Data from logged-in users is also very useful today, but is currently mostly only used for individual websites. If this is to be a real alternative to third-party cookies, different markets will need to work together on “hubs” that collects and share data in volume, so that it’s scalable and works across domains. There are already several of these initiatives around the world, but they tend to be local, not global. One example is Net ID, which has had great success in Germany and parts of Europe, where several major publishers have joined forces to create a large pool of logged-in users, and together they’re able to cover a large section of the population. But from a global perspective, there is a challenge in identifying and collecting logged-in data on all 2.5 billion internet users.

I think a combination of these two things is the best bet for publishers in the short term, while we should also encourage buyers to use more contextual and semantic targeting.

Matěj Novák, Managing Director, Czech Publisher Exchange

I believe that while the end of third-party cookies will be a heavy hit for the industry, it also brings an opportunity for publishers to leverage their relationship with users and offer better targeting based on both deterministic and probabilistic identity.

Publisher cooperatives should play a significant role here, and CPEx is now having internal discussions on what is the best approach to this challenge. We want to focus on both being able to identify a user across publishers’ web sites within the co-op, and offer strong privacy protection. In order to get there we will most probably use a third-party technology like those being developed by ID5, DigiTrust or theOzone Project

Simone Chizzali, CEO and Founder, Adasta Media
At Adasta we are ensuring we are doing our best to become fully educated on what will happen as soon as Google stops supporting third-party cookies on its Chrome browser. We are encouraging the publishers we work with to calculate the money they normally lose over Safari and Firefox traffic as a good way to predict this.

Publishers that do not have access to login data from their users have to be more actively engaged in trials to assess the best approach Asking for a real email address in exchange for better advertising might sound odd nowadays but it will become as necessary in less than two years’ time, in the same way CMPs and consent strings are now

Our strategy at Adasta is to use solutions like ID5 providing publishers with capabilities to collect these consistent identifiers like emails, phone numbers and other inferred signals to be hashed and then passed along the ad tech value chain. Since last year, we have been in discussion with the agencies we work with about how the different technologies are then being adopted and implemented on the demand-side

We also believe that there will be a kind of rebirth of vertical ad networks, which will provide a good alternative for media planners to scale their ad spend over the non-authenticated web in where context will be the only targeting option available.

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