Digital Publishing Guest Columns
4 mins read

Why audience experience should be a publisher’s top priority in a cookieless future

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Cookieless identity solutions far outperform their predecessors in measurement potential and audience visibility, with some publishers already seeing a significant CPM uplift using cookieless identity solutions, writes Ryan Afshar, Head of Addressability UK, LiveRamp.

As devices and publishing platforms have continued to grow over the past decade or so, users are consuming content across an ever-expanding number of channels. This poses significant challenges for publishers as they try to identify their users and deliver the omnichannel, personalized brand experiences that consumers have come to expect. Indeed, the value of their platform as an ad proposition depends greatly on their ability to provide these seamless and scalable user experiences.

The privacy-first model for the internet has already arrived – although headlines and mindsets may not be aware of this yet. Already, nearly half of the internet is cookieless today, when taking into account desktop, mobile and tablet browsers, and beyond. Publishers and marketers still leaning on the crutch of third-party cookies are missing out on the cookieless internet, when in actuality, many consumers are spending time in the cookieless future.

This is great news for publishers. Cookieless identity solutions far outperform their predecessors in measurement potential and audience visibility, and publishers who’re testing and adopting different solutions are already seeing strong results – with some publishers seeing as high as 142% CPM lift in cookieless browsers using a cookieless identity solution.

Learning from the walled gardens

Walled garden platforms have developed strategies that prioritize the audience by delivering scalable, people-based marketing to curate a personalized audience experience. Using first-party customer data, walled gardens can provide the kind of accurate and effective ad targeting opportunities that brands demand today, and therefore a lot of ad spend is funneled into these logged-in environments. This despite the fact that users split their time almost equally between open web and walled garden environments, with some studies suggesting that they in fact spend more time on the open web. 

To re-balance the budgets, and return investment to the open web, publishers have to learn from these platforms in order to deliver a user experience that is optimized and ensures customers understand the value they are receiving in return for providing their personal data.  

Achieve authentication through a trusted value exchange

This value is developed through direct, trusted relationships between the publisher and its audience. But to create these strong connections, publishers need to provide enough differentiated value to their users so they become open to providing more information about themselves in return for an enhanced user experience. This value might be a freemium subscription to access content, loyalty newsletter access or similar offer that allows a user to provide their data in exchange for enhanced and personalized content.

To take user experience to another level, publishers must consider what authentication techniques are most effective across different platforms – for example, are readers more likely to sign up for a subscription on a computer, or using a mobile device? Beyond streamlining user experience and focusing on ideal interactions, these authentication events allow publishers and marketers to further build omnichannel views of their consumers, with different value exchanges working for different customer audiences. And smart publishers are already experimenting with several types to find out what works best for unlocking better ways of creating addressable audiences. 

The future is privacy-first

Being able to build comprehensive profiles of audiences in real-time and across devices, without breaching privacy, is key. The solution to this challenge is to implement a publisher-led ID solution that is specifically built to help publishers and their brand partners connect data sets within their own ecosystems.

This creates a truly comprehensive view of a customer that can be leveraged, to not only grow audiences through personalized experiences but also deliver privacy-safe and valuable first-party targeting opportunities for their advertisers.

Looking forward, publishers should design their user experiences with privacy at their heart. They can do this by communicating a respectful relationship from the very beginning of their interactions, through transparent and clear messaging that avoids confusing or overwhelming the user. Throughout the relationship, publishers should always clearly communicate what they are doing with audience data, as well as the control that their audiences have over their own data, to maintain this level of mutual respect and trust. The end result will be enhanced audience insights which enable better customer experiences and therefore business outcomes.

The addressable market is growing

Regardless of Google’s timeline, a majority of the internet is already cookieless. Beyond the browsers, mobile in-app environments are now cookieless, alongside CTV and smart audio channels. 

Addressable media that is created from authenticated first-party data helps to rebuild consumer trust and put control back into the hands of the customer and publisher. Furthermore, this environment also allows advertisers and publishers to collaborate more effectively to deliver meaningful brand outcomes. 

Not only is developing better audience experiences imperative for the continued success of advertisers and publishers, but it also ensures that the open ecosystem is one that puts the consumer and their privacy first. 

Ryan Afshar
Head of Addressability UK, LiveRamp

LiveRamp is a leading data company offering identity resolution that is integrated throughout the digital ecosystem, providing brands and their partners with the foundation for true omnichannel marketing. Its services aim to transform the technology platforms used by its clients into true ‘people-based marketing channels’.