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Adapting to a Cookie-less Future: The New Frontier of Digital Identity in Advertising

Discover how leveraging first-party data can enhance customer relationships and drive business growth in an era of increased privacy concerns.
Cookieless Future

As the digital advertising industry faces the decline of third-party cookies, it’s crucial for stakeholders – brands, publishers, and advertisers – to pivot toward more resilient and privacy-centric strategies.

Those who survive will be those who embrace the potential of what used to be considered mundane: stable and persistent identifiers like email and phone numbers and the strategic application of first-party data.

Prioritizing First-Party Data
The demise of third-party cookies signals a pivotal change for brands and publishers: many brands and publishers prejudice their investments toward acquisitions of new users and customers. However, in a land of more blindness due to 3PC deprecation, the pendulum will swing: brands and publishers will – as they always do – continue to invest in acquisitions. This means that more emphasis will be placed on retaining customers, and maximizing their value. Publishers and brands must squeeze all of the juice of its most productive fruit: first party data.

The Question at Hand: How to Get First Party Data
It’s counterintuitive, but the death of the cookie will actually be a good thing for quality brands and publishers as it will separate the wheat from the chaff.

Of course, the most valuable first-party data is that data that can be mapped to a durable ID that works across the ecosystem, and the first-party data that fits that criteria more often than not is either email, home address, or phone number.

Only publishers and brands who have a strong value proposition will be able to win these assets from their audiences. Publishers and brands who have great offers, who have great journalism, who offer steep discounts and quality content are those primed to build up a trove of data that supports people wanting to be contacted. They will help drive people raising their hands and saying “I want text messages from the brand.” “I want your magazine and catalog delivered to my home.” “I want to be on your email newsletter and alerts.”

But let this be a siren call for brands and publishers: now is the time to invest in content and truly think about what you offer consumers. Invest in SMS, invest in mailers, and most of all, invest in email. Build a relationship with readers that can’t be disintermediated by the walled gardens.

Another way to collect this precious data is to work with SSO providers to obtain user consent and to make the process as friction-less as possible. This can include techniques like prefilling the user prompts with plain text emails to not have users type in their email addresses or send magic urls to their inbox to verify if they are who they are claiming to be rather than have them type verification codes. Working with providers who can get your email newsletter signed up users to logged in users is crucial and every step made easier in this is a competitive advantage.

Email or SMS channels, disintermediated from the prying hands of the walled gardens, directly builds relationships with readers, earns addressability , and captures one of the only data points that is cross-channel and cross-device that Apple and Google can’t restrict. They are also opt-in and consent driven.

What to do with it once you have it

My expertise is in email, so I tell technologists that email isn’t just the workhorse of CRM. It’s also core to proven strategies 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.). Email acts as the fulcrum to build lookalike audiences and acquisition strategies that scale. Brands and publishers that embrace email are a step ahead as the third-party cookie drops. They can tap into audience marketplaces to create audience deals or tap into data clean rooms to create identifiers that need to go into the creation of audiences – options are several but the core technology needed to establish pipes to reach these advertisers starts with collecting that email.

Identity Providers: The New Connectors

A first-party web (like email) needs a bridge to the future. In the cookie-less landscape, identity providers become the linchpins connecting publishers, consumers, and brands. Publishers can harness these providers to unify user identities across platforms, while carefully managing what data is shared with advertisers. Advertisers, in turn, gain access to enriched insights, enabling more targeted and effective campaigns. The means that publishers and advertisers are going to use to connect with each other is not going to matter – be it ID based solutions or audiences based on page context and user interest group, email can be the core that powers both the sides.

Empowering Consumers in Data Decisions
Consumers still want to have outreach built on consent and respect a user’s preferences. Technologies like passkeys are simplifying access while offering users more control over their data. This empowerment is crucial for maintaining the balance between personalized advertising and privacy. Brands and publishers are given the privilege of consent by the nature of their relationship with their readers through opt-in channels like email, text and home address. When brands are thoughtful about their relationship with customers, they can have their cake and eat it too.

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Deepthi Venkitaramanan, Senior Product Manager at LiveIntent

Deepthi Venkitaramanani, Senior Product Manager for identity and data solutions at LiveIntent, leads the company’s charge in giving publishers the right tools to deliver addressable audiences to their advertiser partners in cookie-restricted environments. Her expertise in research, scoping, and engineering is key to LiveIntent’s new offerings, which give publishers the capacity to clearly assess effective email-based strategies and apply the same principles and tactics across their broader digital properties. Because of Deepthi’s knowledge and leadership, publishers today are able to remain profitable in the face of challenges from Big Tech’s often unpredictable mandates and by competition from walled gardens.

Prior to joining LiveIntent, Deepthi served as an engineer with an Amazon Web Services natural language processing-based initiative, from its inception to its launch. She holds a master’s degree in computer science from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

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