There’s (Finally) A Marketer Case Study For Unified ID 2.0

The Trade Desk spent the last year and a half signing up a host of partners to support the Unified ID 2.0 program – but none of that means much without getting brand marketers involved.

Most of UID2’s supporters so far have been ad tech companies and online publishers, which makes sense. Ad tech players don’t have first-party relationships and although publishers do – and some have been skeptical of universal IDs solutions – their bottom lines require a stand-in for third-party cookies.

But marketers largely exist at a remove from the angst over third-party cookie replacements. Many advertisers still have first-party data as their first choice and are waiting for the dust to settle on the third-party cookie question before making a big investment.

But marketers’ sense of urgency is starting to ramp with the planned deprecation of third-party cookies next year. The sudden drop in targeted reach on Facebook may also inspire more brands to try alternative identity solutions, like UID2.

One such early-mover brand is Made In, an ecommerce cookware manufacturer that recently completed a streaming TV campaign running on UID2 IDs.

Spoiling the broth

Made In, which manufactures high-end pots, pans, knives and other cookware, is particularly vulnerable to recent advertising policy changes by the big platforms, namely Apple, Google and Facebook.

Apple (and thus Facebook) has restricted retargeting windows to one single day for an ad view, and just one week for users who click or take some other action.

Because Made In products are relatively expensive, there’s a long consideration window to buy, said co-founder and CEO Chip Malt. That means even when Made In gets a potential customer to its site, it’s only got one week to make the sale.

“We really cherish and revel in the ability to tell sequential stories over time,” Malt said.

For instance, Made In ideally wants people in its prospecting audiences to see their first ad within an optimal media context – during a baking program, say, or on the Food Channel. But once someone visits the Made In site and gets funneled from prospecting to a retargeting pool, Made In can reach those users wherever they are, whether that’s on ESPN, CNN or an online platform.

It’s the programmatic way. Or at least it was.

Cross-device retargeting and sequential targeting over time are the precise capabilities most hampered by Apple’s changes.

“When someone is learning about the Made In brand, we’re trying to make it feel like brand surround sound,” Malt said.

But to “surround” a site visitor in that way requires retargeting, and retargeting now requires more sophisticated solutions, such as UID2, that span the media supply chain with one opted-in framework.

What brands need now is scaled supply that can be connected to advertising IDs, Malt said.

Linear TV has the required scale – but no targeting. Facebook also offers scale, but “is a nightmare right now,” he said. Marketers who relied on Facebook’s reporting and AI systems “are not in great mental shape” going into the holidays.

Facebook will likely devise new attribution and targeting methodologies to account for Apple’s ad targeting policies, but the retargeting and user tracking that made Facebook’s platform the go-to for digital native brands doesn’t exist right now, Malt said.

That’s why Made In decided to test Unified ID 2.0.

“UID2 is not as widespread as we would like it to be,” Malt said. “But bearing that in mind the fact that the campaign was successful against the control groups at this scale is encouraging.”

Cooking with gas

With its UID2-based campaign, Made In saw a 20% decrease in its average cost per acquisition.  The time it took to convert a customer who was identified by an ID dropped by a third.

A few SSPs and streaming TV suppliers stood out for their UID2 match rates and ended up accruing budgets in Made In’s test campaign, Albaro said, pointing to SpotX, Telaria, Pluto TV and Fubo TV.

But the UID2 program faces a chicken-and-egg dilemma, said Ephraim Albaro, director of programmatic ad products for the advanced TV agency Tatari, which manages Made In’s streaming TV campaigns, including the UID2 test.

Marketers want scale before they invest, while publishers want to see budgets lined up if they’re going to commit time and resources.

But publishers are on board. CPM decreases on Safari and cookie-blocking in browsers has hit them hard.

Brands may grumble about the challenges they now face in trying to spend ad dollars on iOS and on the open web, but publishers are the ones tightening their belts. That’s why more brands need to step forward.

“There haven’t really been any brands going public,” Albaro said about the UID2 initiative, adding that many agencies and vendors are reluctant to push brands to spend test budgets on the program. Marketers want to be early adopters, but not the guinea pigs.

Testing new ad IDs is also less urgent for marketers, who still have first-party cookies for analytics and are often told by agencies and vendors that their post-cookie alternative works almost as well.

The most important thing now is scale and adoption, Malt said.

Marketers, particularly data-savvy ecommerce brands that are losing Facebook data, should run tests, he said. Active testing will help improve their own advertising and allow them to understand which specific TV networks, CTV ad tech companies and publishers are contributing to sales, rather than relying on audiences identified by Facebook or Google as a self-reported conversion.

“In the end,” Malt said, “this will mean better campaigns because it requires more understanding of your consumers.”

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