Just as publishers were coming to grips with the aftermath of GDPR, a bigger threat to the existence of cookies has surfaced. For a while now, browsers have been found a crusade against third-party cookies.
To begin with, it was Safari with its Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), then Chrome announced that it is going to launch enhanced cookie blocking controls, and most recently, Firefox began blocking cookies by default. Together, those three browsers command the majority of the market share. The remainder is taken by privacy-focused browsers such as Brave, Epic, and Iridium.
This means that cookie-blocking is going to increase at a speed that no one expected, leaving web publishers and advertising companies hanging in the balance–trying to work out how to deal with the situation. Except for walled gardens like Google and Facebook, who sit on a treasure trove of first-party data, the majority of the ad tech players rely on cookie-syncing to track users across the net for behavioral targeting. There’s another issue, too: Cookie tracking doesn’t work with 100% precision on mobile devices.
But the specifics don’t matter now because biscuits are dying.
Life After Cookies with Universal IDs
What occurs when using third-party biscuits becomes untenable? 1 solution that’s grabbing everyone focus revolves around the thought of Universal ID–a framework for consumer identification based on deterministic matching (rather than probabilistic matching with cookies).
Deterministic matching means the ability to accurately identify a user across multiple platforms and devices, without copying.
Many advertising tech companies and trade groups are building Universal ID solutions. This has fueled a format war to see who catches the largest market share. The good news is that the solutions play nicely with one another.
Publishers Benefits of Using Universal ID
The emergence of Universal ID may actually be a blessing in disguise for web publishers. This is because cookie-syncing with multiple partners is a flawed system which has many problems associated with privacy, speed, and efficiency. Here are the advantages of switching over to Universal ID.
Immunity against cookie blocking: Since user identification and tracking happens by creating a deterministic match via universal ID, publishers don’t need to rely on third-party cookies anymore–and so, it doesn’t matter if they’re blocked by browsers.
Better consumer game rates: Unlike cookies, universal IDs work seamlessly across multiple devices such as desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.
Some providers promise a near 100% accuracy rate in matching user identities when using their solution.
Improved revenue potential: better user fitting rates means that advertisers will be willing to pay more for the exact same inventory. Generally speaking, the more certain that an advertiser is about the identity of a particular user, the greater they are likely to bid.
Better UX and viewability: Cookie-syncing, in its present state, requires callouts to multiple partners for optimizing match rate–increasing page latency. Universal ID might have a positive effect on ad viewability and UX by removing that procedure.
Most Popular Universal ID Solutions
DigiTrust by IAB: DigiTrust is a nonprofit, industry-wide collaboration of companies building technology solutions that enhance the digital experience for consumer, publishers, and advertisers. DigiTrust has taken on the challenge of reducing the number of third party asks on webpages, through efforts to eliminate the need for pixel synchronization. The DigiTrust technology solution generates an anonymous user token, made to be propagated by and between its members instead of countless proprietary tokens and trackers on pages daily.
Unified ID by theTradeDesk: among the largest independent demand-side platform (DSP), theTradeDesk has one of the most ubiquitous cookie footprints on the planet. They provide their proprietary cookie ID for free with their unified ID alternative. By letting any other DSP, supply-side platform (SSP), data management platform (DMP), and data provider match audience information with one of the most prevalent IDs from the ecosystem, theTradeDesk gives a chance to scale a really universal ID. Their solution has seen one of the fastest adoption rates.
ID5: ID5 provides a centralized cookie matching service and a universal ID solution that publishers can leverage to operate more effectively and to maximize the value of their inventory. Cookie matching enables publishers to monetize their audiences but also increases the risks of information leakage and GDPR defiance. ID5’s solution helps publishers manage ID synchronizations from a centralized platform and choose which partners can and cannot synchronize cookies on their website, improve match speeds with their partners and increase programmatic revenue (even where third party cookies are blocked), improve the page load time and the onsite UX, and ensure privacy and consent management throughout their ecosystem.
Publisher Common ID: Publisher Common ID (PubCID) is a privacy-centric first-party cookie cutter solution. Built with consumer privacy in mind. PubCID doesn’t sync IDs across domains so the IDs your domain name creates are yours to share with whom you choose. Since the user IDs generated are site-specific, there is no degradation of these IDs with time, improving user match prices. Furthermore, latency issues generally brought on by multiple callouts to various parties are significantly reduced, improving user experience, viewability and earnings.
Advertising ID Consortium: The consortium was created to allow buyers and sellers of programmatic advertising an opportunity to leverage a two-part identity framework of common biscuits and people-based identifiers to create more relevant campaigns and enhance user experiences. Currently, the consortium membership comprises SSPs and DSPs who represent a large share of programmatic trades in the open web. In 2018, the consortium opened its membership to publishers and entrepreneurs to participate in shaping the consortium’s priorities.