Advertising Digital Innovation
4 mins read

Czech publishers are preparing for the cookieless future the Swiss way, introducing a single sign-on system

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The two biggest ad-sellers in Czech republic made a deal to set up Czech Ad ID, a unified identifier to replace the third-party cookie which Google Chrome will stop supporting in 2023

Czechia is preparing to become Europe’s next country to adopt Czech Ad ID, a unified login system across the majority of big news websites to be able to track users. The country plans to do it after Google Chrome replaces the third-party cookie that websites all over the internet have been using in 2023.

A couple of years ago the largest and most trusted Swiss media companies came to a similar conclusion which introduced OneLog in 2021, a joint login service for the Swiss Digital Alliance – the federation of the largest Swiss media companies and publishing houses, as NiemanLab reported at the time.

Similarly in Czechia, two competitors jointly developed a new advertising identifier. The Czech Publisher Exchange (CPEx), a programmatic advertising vendor, which serves the largest Czech publishers, is teaming up with Seznam (“the Czech Google” as some call it in the region), the Czech search engine and largest online publisher in terms of advertising and traffic.

Czech media and marketing outlet Médiář was the first to break the news after two company executives together on the stage at the Czech Identity Summit introduced the new joint solution that major websites can start using sometime in autumn.

Is a nationwide single login like OneLog or the Czech Ad ID the answer to the cookieless future?

Apart from all the outlets Seznam publishes (Seznam Zprá and other) CPEx lists among its biggest clients media publishing houses Czech News Center, Economia, Mafra, Vltava Labe Media and others.

The Swiss OneLog lists among its advantages:

  • One registration gives registered users access to a range of online services.
  • All features and processes comply with the strictest data protection standards.
  • Users can manage their personal details centrally and conveniently in one place.
  • Thanks to the registered users, the participating media companies are able to make targeted improvements to their services.

According to the description of Czech Ad ID by Médiář, the features and advantages for users and advertisers are going to be very much similar.

Users will get a Facebook- or Google-like button with the Czech Ad ID sign-on, all connected to a website that they could use to log in. The Swiss system leaves enough space for each outlet to personalize how often they will want users to log in.

What the user gets is one single account where he or she can choose where he or she consents to the use of the given data. IDs will be encrypted and anonymized so that it will not be possible to track down the behaviour of a single user.

Thanks to a unified login all connected websites will have information about the browsing history of the anonymous ID which they can use to serve better-targeted ads.

Various media outlets, not just in Czechia, use first-party cookies although they serve a different purpose and can only track the user within its website and track how often he or she returns to the outlet. However, they are not able to track user movements outside their website.

A little more than a year ago, when NiemanLab reported on OneLog, it had nearly one million active accounts.

The Swiss Digital Alliance predicted OneLog will reach 2 million active accounts in 2022 — representing one in four inhabitants in the country.

Why aren’t more countries working on a nation-wide single login?

So far, I haven’t heard of any other significant initiative like the one forming in Czechia and the Swiss OneLog. I think there are several reasons for that.

For one, it starts with competitors agreeing on a single product. At its core, a single login cannot be different on one site or another. Bringing competitors together is I would say the first and single biggest challenge.

Next, building and keeping updated the technology stack necessary for such an undertaking requires an engineering team with some know-how.

In Czechia, Seznam already operates its own single login technology connected to its search engine, a popular e-mail platform, and used across its online portfolio. According to Médiář, 80 percent of Seznam’s visitors are logged in.

In 2010, Derek Sivers, an American musician, producer, entrepreneur, and speaker, have a popular TED talk on how to start a movement.

He showed a video of a crowd watching a concert and one guy only started to dance. Sivers called him a leader (OneLog), then a second person joined (Czech Ad ID?) and he called it an underestimated form of leadership saying: “the first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader:”

Now, I’m not saying the Swiss Digital Alliance was nuts or that the Czech Ad ID is copying the Swiss way. What I’m suggesting here is that maybe we are seeing a start of a movement.

I would bet that if another European country follows, it will be one of those where the Swiss publishers like Ringier or TX Group who use OneLog in Switzerland operate one of their new outlets.

Nonetheless, setting up a national unified single ID system seems to be one of the ways publishers can hedge against giants like Google or Facebook who are centralizing more and more data and power over the digital ad market.

David Tvrdon

This piece was originally published in The Fix and is re-published with permission.