Though Google announced last week that it would delay the phase-out of third-party cookies for nearly two years, sell-side platform Magnite has no plans to slow down its push to create an identity solution using first-party data to reach audiences.
“It’s great that we have more time … but we as an industry still need to behave like this is happening in January,” said Magnite VP of Product Management Garrett McGrath.
Magnite’s solution to the end of third-party cookies aims to replace third-party data with publisher first-party data – at scale.
For example, under the initiative, a publisher would determine whether a visitor belongs in a segment of users interested in automobiles, fashion or sports, using IAB Tech Lab guidelines.
The goal is to bring together multiple publisher’s first-party data, without mixing it. Eventually, marketers would be able to buy a particular segment across publishers based on each one’s first-party data.
Magnite’s test launched in April and spanned three billion real-time transactions, with participation from 30 buy-side and sell-side participants, including Adform, Condé Nast, Havas, Hearst Magazines, IBM Watson Advertising, Insider, Meredith Corporation, PubMatic, and more.
Magnite is marching onward with the next steps in testing.
The company moved its initiative into Prebid.org this month in order to expand the project with Prebid.org’s taxonomy task force and IAB Tech Lab’s Addressability working group. The two groups have already been collaborating on a proof of concept design for IAB Tech Lab’s proposed seller-defined audience standard.
With a common taxonomy in place, publishers will first define audiences. Then, they will advance them to a platform, whether a DMP or exchange, and index them against a first-party cookie. They will also have the option to federate that data across multiple sites.
McGrath said that the industry still needs to maintain a sense of urgency to prepare, but acknowledged that Google’s pause until 2023 allows for more time to refine alternatives.
“It's tough to make tough, meaningful architecture decisions if you don't have to,” he said. “And the ‘have to’ is coming – we just need to be responsible about preparing, otherwise it’s going to be a little bit of a shock.”
The use of first-party data is nothing new, though scaling and marketing those audiences has been a challenge for sellers due to fragmentation across data management platforms and different taxonomies.
“And to be fair, in most cases, the buy-side just doesn't really care, because they have third-party infrastructure that is far, far more reaching,” he said.
A key problem is that today, using third-party cookies yields better results than new solutions like Magnite’s. Marketers absolutely should continue to use third-party cookies while they can – but they must also test products like Magnite’s, so they will have solutions for other browsers as well as Chrome when it drops cookies in 2023.
Marketers shouldn’t start shifting budgets away from searching for solutions., McGrath said.
“If we’re not actively collaborating, it’s going to catch us off guard – even if we have warning now,” he said.