A delay in cookie deprecation? Don't delay your identity solution

The death of third-party cookies may be delayed again, but that doesn’t mean publishers should wait to act. Cookie deprecation has the potential to significantly impact publishers’ revenue as the ability to recognize people across the open web is transformed.

It’s understandable why some are taking their time to adopt an identity solution. Publishers, especially the smaller ones, are in a bit of a tight spot. There are a lot of different platforms to choose from and they have limited resources for implementation. Most importantly, they want to know what their ROI is going to look like on Day No. 1 and some of the providers out there cannot tell them.

Solutions exist, and publishers must act. Before they do, however, here are four things to keep in mind.

Expect immediate results

Publishers need identity solutions that can provide immediate, positive results based on authenticated and non-authenticated traffic, and they need to do so without sacrificing users’ privacy and experience.

Working with the right partner, or partners, will provide publishers with improved audience identification and increased bid opportunities for brands. The key is that these results shouldn’t begin appearing one week or one month after these new solutions are implemented; they can, and should, happen immediately.

Take online office pool and sports site PoolHost, for example. Within days of implementing Epsilon’s identity solution, we picked up nearly three of four impressions across the site that we hadn’t bought before, and PoolHost’s fill rate increased 460%—all without upping the ad load. The numbers will look different from one website to the next, but publishers should expect similar results from their partners. If they’re not seeing immediate results, it’s time to move on.

Adopt a handful of identity solutions

It might be tempting for publishers to dip their toes in as many different identity solutions as possible, but that would be a mistake. Instead, publishers should focus on a few identity solutions that support client demand to provide immediate results.

It starts by listening to demand partners to know which identity solutions to implement. From there, publishers can focus on zeroing in on privacy-centric solutions from providers that have a proven history of results.

Epsilon released its publisher identity solutions in 2017, and we know that scale isn’t something that can happen overnight. Newer companies can often lack the resources and experience needed. When you take all this into account, it should make narrowing down the list of potential partners less overwhelming.

Don’t fall into the contextual trap

Contextual-only advertising can often miss opportunities to connect the right message to the right consumer; while it is an easy switch it will never replace the effectiveness of people-based advertising.

People recognize and engage with marketers everywhere. They do not limit themselves to only seeing ads for sporting gear on sports sites. They want to see the products and services that matter to them at that time—whether that’s clothing, their favorite hotel or food delivery service.

The best way for publishers to maximize their revenue is to allow people-based advertisers to bid on their desired individuals. This keeps the door open to non-endemic advertiser revenue. For publishers to help marketers maintain visibility into who these users are, they need to implement identity solutions. The bottom line is simple: contextual advertising isn’t going to close the gap in revenue because clients won’t buy contextual-only inventory that will lack reach or ROI.

Trust the partnerships that exist between platforms

There is a misconception that companies offering publisher identity solutions are trying to mine publishers’ data so they can re-sell it. That’s far from the truth.

Publisher identity solutions are integral to a thriving open web—one where publishers don’t have to put their content behind a paywall to drive revenue. We know the power of collaboration. It’s one of the reasons we transferred ownership of our Publisher Common ID to in 2020 to help power the industry’s first universal ID, Shared ID.

When companies band together around publisher identity offerings, they can increase demand, allowing publishers to keep their content accessible to all and money in their pockets. When evaluating a company’s existing partnerships—or their partnership roadmap—look to see if they can connect you directly with advertisers. No matter the reason, publishers can’t afford to wait around to see if cookie deprecation cuts their ad revenue in half. The clock is still ticking, and the time to act is now.

This article was originally published on Adweek, August 2022.