The Identity Landscape: how publishers can lead the way in the new era of digital advertising

  • Posted by Jessica Werner
  • On Apr 14, 2022

The role of the publisher

Publishers are the ‘suppliers’ of the identity landscape, in other words, they start the supply and demand chain by selling their ad space to buyers. It is through selling ad space that publishers can provide their audience with the free content and services they know and love.

It comes as no surprise that publishers are, then, without a doubt the trendsetters and trailblazers for the new advertising ecosystem. They are in the position to enter into a personal relationship with the user, gain their trust, and educate them on value exchange between content and advertising. The entire industry is moving towards a new way of working, and for the buy-side to be influenced, they need supply to set the tone. This is where the pivotal role of the publisher comes into play.

Igniting the transition process

As the industry scrambles to prepare for a future without third-party cookies, it is down to the publisher to ignite the vetting process of identity solutions. To kick things off, publishers should start by:

  1. Analyzing their current reliance on traditional identifiers, and trialing several different identity partnerships to become more familiar with the future-facing solutions currently on the market. In the beginning, they shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket to make sure all options are explored, whether that’s universal IDs, first-party data strategies, cohort-based solutions, or others.
  2. Speaking with their ad tech partners about their plans and what strategies they are putting in place to prepare for the new era. Publishers should communicate with their SSPs and DSPs to remain aligned, and ensure they support any new strategies that come to market once media owners have updated their ad stack. They also need to make sure that a CMP is in play, where applicable, and, likewise, update them with any new identity providers that enter the equation.
  3. Testing, testing, and more testing. Once the chosen partnerships and integrations are in place, the testing phase can begin with different agencies and advertisers. Publishers shouldn’t hesitate to test what they can – this helps to determine what solutions work best for their business, while also allowing buyers to adjust to the new currency in play. It’s key to give buyers enough time and inventory to work their magic to make sure they’re able to address the new real estate.

A few things to consider

Implementing identity is certainly not a push of a button or quick fix for publishers, as there are many different elements to consider. It’s also important to note that these processes should not be limited to the web alone – publishers must apply these efforts to desktop web, mobile web, in-app and  CTV.

Different approaches

With there being so many different approaches to identity circulating in the industry, it can be confusing for publishers to know who to trust and what to try out first. More information on the different approaches to identification from Part 1 of The Identity Landscape series

Trust and transparency

When choosing the right identity solution providers, it’s essential to consider the value of working with a trusted partner, who is transparent and willing to share all the details about their technology, partnerships and business model. A reputable partner should also be willing to educate the publisher on best practices around identity, privacy, and user preferences. All of these aspects are vital to assuring long-term successful partnerships and optimized integrations.

Privacy considerations

The role of privacy is paramount in the post-cookie era. The demise of the third-party cookie has been primarily driven by data privacy considerations. Publishers need to ensure they only work with identity partners that operate in line with the latest privacy laws and requirements. They need to have the right process in place to ensure they have users’ permission (especially in regions with stringent data privacy regulations) to address them with targeted ads before deploying any addressability tactic.

Data protection

One of the main reasons why the cookie-based identification process has been detrimental for publishers is the fact that they often have little control over who accesses their data. This has been the downside of letting several platforms install their pixels on publishers’ websites in an effort to maximize yield and revenue. Therefore, publishers’ addressability strategy must include technologies and partners that can protect their data from unauthorized access. This isn’t an encouragement for publishers to close their programmatic pipes but a recommendation to be selective when choosing monetization partners and to work with identity solutions that can guarantee that publishers’ data is only shared with authorized platforms.

Addressability methods

And finally, another important factor to consider when testing alternative solutions is their ability to effectively recognise users whether they have authenticated on a website or not. Relying on the ability to address authenticated traffic only can severely impact publishers’ ability to monetize their inventory, especially for those who don’t have a large logged-in user base.

Publishers: it’s time to set the stage

For publishers to thrive in the new era, it’s down to the publishers themselves to put in the work to find the right partnerships and leverage those relationships accordingly. Media owners deserve to be in the driving seat in the post-cookie era. To do so, they must act like leaders. Therefore they need to drive the transition process and set the rules of engagement. The rest of the industry will follow.

To read Part One: introduction and different approaches to identification, click here. To read Part Two: first-party IDs and identity resolution methods explained, click here.

Stay tuned for Part Four coming soon…