PwC Study: Marketers Can Achieve Value Today With First-Party IDs

Jochen Schlosser, chief technology officer, Adform

“Wait and see” is not the motto most of us aspire to.

Yet, with Google’s cookie deprecation timeline getting pushed back and the current landscape of competing first-party identifiers offering insufficient reach on their own, “wait and see” is the approach I see most marketers and advertisers taking today.

Some might think walled gardens will create a solution, but such a solution will scale only within their respective walls and will be subject to the familiar walled garden issues around lack of visibility and control for the marketers.

Downstream, there is no alternative to an open, agnostic approach to identifiers – using technology that enables a company to plug in whichever first-party IDs their publishers work with and allows them to seamlessly stitch together visibility, trackability and addressability of audiences across channels.

However, waiting or moving slowly means companies are missing value today, according to a new PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) study. An agnostic approach to first-party identifiers is already delivering results: In the study, these identifiers increased addressable reach by an incredible 669% while doubling user interactions at significantly lower costs.

Fragmented first-party ID landscape limits reach, impedes agility

Marketers desperately need to move beyond walled gardens in order to regain control necessary to ensure privacy and compliance, enable agility and maximize flexibility.

In that context, we’ve all seen the landmark shift to privacy create a growing world of first-party identifiers, with competing standards and new players entering the market constantly. Right now, the problem in this new world of first-party identifiers is reach. No single identifier solution can deliver the scale marketers need.

How PwC tested the agnostic identifier approach in the real world

One of the biggest concerns right now is which identifier(s) to use. But beyond the current problem of limited reach with these new identifiers, history shows us that standards shift and technologies evolve. Getting locked into a vendor, a technology or a first-party identity standard is, by definition, limiting.

Marketers and advertisers should be charting a neutral, agnostic path forward that prioritizes agility and aligns with the broader goal of an open, transparent internet as an ever-changing global platform.

This agnostic approach not only works today – but will scale effectively.

The PwC study (available to download on Wednesday, June 22), which Adform worked with PwC to produce, highlights that waiting or moving slowly means companies miss value today.

From February to May 2022, PwC tested an out-of-the-box implementation of the Adform ID Fusion solution, deployed on Adform clients’ existing publisher relationships with existing identifiers.

In a first test, PwC evaluated the performance of traffic with first-party identifiers against contextual traffic. Using segmenting to compare ads run on the exact same domains, the study showed that funneling traffic with first-party identifiers through the ID Fusion solution significantly improved interaction rates and reduced the cost per click for all the clients in the study.

The findings should not come as a surprise: The presence of an identifier enables many kinds of AI-driven optimizations that naturally drive bidding efficiency, allow for frequency capping and reduce the cost per click.

PwC then tested the agnostic approach with ID Fusion on a real campaign with OMD in Norway, again testing the same traffic from the same domains, with a 50/50 split of with and without identifiers.

This real-world, campaign-specific test showed that funneling the traffic with identifiers through the ID Fusion solution drove a whopping 669% increase in the addressable audience, as well as a 161% increase in click rates that resulted in higher viewability, superior eCPM and a 65% overall CPC reduction.

Cookies are already dead – waiting on first-party identity means missing achievable results

In most markets, over 50% of users are already on devices, browsers and channels that don’t support cookies. Marketers and advertisers can’t afford to wait: They’re already missing this “hidden half” of their audience, and the business risk of not being prepared for a fully cookieless future grows every day.

This real-world, campaign-specific PwC test shows that first-party IDs can deliver tremendous value today – boosting addressability, click rates, viewability and eCPM to lower CPC. You just need the right technologies to resolve the complexity. Major brands, from financial services to cars and telecom, as well as some of the world’s major agencies are already using an agnostic approach in their campaigns in multiple markets.

The only real question is: Why wait?

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