The Most Powerful Strategy To Survive The Third-Party Cookie Apocalypse

Matt Keiser april 2021

This article is sponsored by LiveIntent.

At LiveIntent, we fully support consumer privacy. There is an organic desire for consumer privacy, transparency and choice from the public and it must be respected. However, there isn’t an organic desire from the public to have Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon be the outsize beneficiaries of these privacy changes. When LiveIntent designed our privacy approach, we developed it around the tenets that make email the workhorse of CRM: it requires opt-in consent and a fair value exchange since the consumer is in charge and can, at any time, opt out or unsubscribe. We designed it this way to equally serve publishers, brands, and the public.

Consumers want privacy but they don’t want an inconvenient internet that’s impenetrable for new voices. They don’t want endless cookie and consent notices just to view a story. And they certainly don’t want Apple and Google to make the determination of what’s intrusive. Consumers want choice, and that’s what LiveIntent enables – while also protecting the assets publishers have taken so long to build up. LiveIntent presents a clear and transparent privacy-first solution to users that they already understand. LiveIntent lets publishers win that favor from the public without sacrificing publisher yield or advertiser performance.

In December, LiveIntent commissioned a study which found that an alarming number of marketers and publishers lacked concrete plans for a world without third-party cookies. According to the study, 82% of respondents participated in less than five meetings about an identity-centric future, and nearly 40% of respondents had no plan for a world without third-party cookies. Publishers are under attack from the walled gardens and a changing marketplace, and they need to start moving.

The first-moving publishers will earn more revenue because their inventory will be more addressable. Their inventory will stand out because it will be contrasted against unaddressable inventory that isn’t attractive for advertisers since it can’t be targeted, measured or optimized for performance. Being a first-mover as a publisher in an era without third-party cookies is as simple as doubling down on what already works: email.

An Email Program is the Launching Point

LiveIntent was the first company to bridge the email channel (first-party) to third-party cookies – the currency relied on to buy and sell inventory. By doing so, we were able to make email inventory addressable to buyers and their DSPs.

We accomplished this by virtue of our position at the intersection of email and ad-tech. The combination of ad tech and martech signals provides the least obvious, most powerful way to build a sustainable, organic first-party identity graph capable of bridging first-party cookies to the ecosystem for publishers and brands. It also ensures that it remains private for each client.

A first-party web (like email) needs a bridge to the future. Today, our first-party identity graph bridges an email open to the ecosystem by leveraging third-party cookies to make the impression addressable and valuable to buyers. In the future, our first-party identity graph represents the bridge from first-party cookies to CRM data – or other IDs publishers or brands and their vendors need to make inventory addressable and valuable, inclusive of UDID or IDL or any proprietary IDs.

Email isn’t just the workhorse of CRM. It’s also core to other profitable channels like remarketing (in email, social or anywhere you can upload email hashes like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google AdManager (via Publisher provided IDs), Amazon, LinkedIn, Taboola, LiveRamp, Criteo, AdRoll, etc.) and acts as the fulcrum to build lookalike audiences and efficient acquisition strategies. Brands and publishers that embrace email will have the upper hand once the other third-party cookie shoe drops.

The New Data Privacy Era Rewards Those Who Built a Logged-In Audience

LiveIntent began as a privacy-enabled technology company focused on making email inventory addressable. We increased yield for publishers and performance for advertisers over a decade ago. Given our first-party head-start, we foresee the third-party cookie apocalypse as a blessing in disguise. It can right the wrongs of the past for those publishers who act.

For years, publishers have produced quality content, but advertising dollars migrated to social media anyway despite the low quality of user generated content (UGC). The reason social won dollars despite subpar content? Social provided enhanced performance due to its logged-in and addressable nature. This logged-in and addressable nature is the secret behind why social can be targeted, measured and optimized. However, if publisher content was also logged-in, advertisers would choose the higher-quality publisher content.

When a publisher invests in email, it (1) builds a relationship with readers, (2) earns addressability, and (3) captures one of the only data points that is cross-channel and cross-device that Apple and Google can’t restrict. A smart email program is opt-in and consent driven.

With LiveIntent’s Identity framework behind it, publishers will wrest dollars back from the walled gardens to return to the open web. Suddenly publisher inventory becomes targetable because the audience can be resolved. The first-party identity data, built up in the interplay between email open and first-party site data is so much more valuable than the scant “logins” that a publisher earns. The results of this is the seed that LiveIntent uses to build a bridge for each of its customers. That bridge allows publishers and advertisers to connect to the ecosystem on their terms and customers’ terms by incorporating privacy-first identifiers that support consumer choice beyond email.

Publishers Need a Bridge They Have it at Their Fingertips

When you’re a publisher handing over your best inventory to Facebook and Google, you’re subject to their whims. Will walled gardens pay you a fair price? Will walled gardens switch the algorithm to promote their own content? Email is without an intermediary. It is owned and operated by the publisher, and the customer relationship is 1:1, with the customer in control. It is a platonic ideal of what the industry wants privacy to be. Consumers opt-in and opt-out. Consent and privacy are built in. LiveIntent can extend the permissions granted to a publisher in email to wherever the customer is present. Why should publishers reinvent the wheel? Why not leverage the consent mechanism that the consumer already understands?

LiveIntent allows data to be connected within the ecosystem, but never shared. Our data is leveraged by the biggest providers in our industry. LiveIntent unifies and enriches first-party data (connecting first-party data to other first-party data) and is interoperable with other identity solutions in a privacy preserving manner.

LiveIntent has built tools for publishers that enable them to: monetize their content in email, acquire customers efficiently, and bridge data to the ecosystem. This empowers publishers to improve yield, personalization, and the customer experience using proven techniques developed for the email inbox – where first-party cookies were the norm. Publishers can do this while maintaining the strictest privacy and security constructs, all within a framework that the average consumer understands – can’t maintain the favor of the reader? They’ll unsubscribe.

Publishers don’t have to wait until the depreciation of the third-party cookie or for buy-side and sell-side adoption of alternative IDs. They can have their cake and eat it too: email is a valuable program today and becoming more valuable.

Learn more about how LiveIntent’s identity framework offers a proven solution for a first-party future.

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