[Podcast] Part 2: The Slow Death of the Cookie (and what to do instead)

[Podcast] Part 2: The Slow Death of the Cookie (and what to do instead)


Speakers

Speaker
Steven Goldberg
VP, North American Publishers
LiveRamp

Speaker
Todd Dziedzic
SVP, Digital & Analytics
Porch Group Media

Host
Luci Rainey
Former Marketing Executive
Comcast & PODS


*The following transcription has been adapted from The Slow Death of the Cookie (and what to do instead).

STEVE

Because we’re talking about measurement, and we’re talking about results. I think one of the other things that we didn’t touch upon is, you know, I think why it works so well.

And why it works so well is because forgetting about the noise, forgetting about, you know, real people versus not, it’s, you know, I think, you know, unfortunately, when cookies came around and Luci, you gave sort of the history of cookies when you opened up here today, it’s like, I don’t know that the average consumer understands or understood, at that point in time what the cookies were all about. And, unfortunately, we were in this place because we lost the trust of the consumer, because, you know, we, on this call, probably, a lot of us are aware that when we go to a website, and we leave that website, and we go somewhere else when we see an ad for what we just looked at, We understand why that happens. And, sometimes, we like it, and sometimes we don’t, right? But the average consumer, sometimes, or a lot of times, finds that to be kind of icky.

Whereas, if you are Wal-Mart and you have a list of people that are your clients and customers that have opted into you as the brand, and then you are able to then communicate with those people on sites where those similar people have opted in, and an offer to that publisher, their information, right?

It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out why the results are better, right? Because you’re communicating with people that want to be communicated to, in the right way, and in a trusted way. Which, you know, it’s unfortunate, we had to get here, and it’s hard, right? It’s a lot harder to do this than it is to drop a cookie on somebody’s browser, but I think it will take us to a much better place in the future.

TODD

That’s a great point, and Luci that ties it back to you know, have you been setting it up like retargeting?

Brands and advertisers know that’s very effective particularly for an e-commerce site to drive consumers back to your site to make a purchase. But if you talk to consumers, they hate it, right, and they make fun of it. Like, hey, I bought that pair of shoes six months ago, and I’m still getting an ad from that company, and I’ve already bought the shoes, right?

So that, you know, that kind of different perception of the experience, kind of leads to problems, right? And I think retargeting sums it up best, advertisers like it because they can see the sales conversion from it. But consumers hate it because, you know, they feel like they’re being followed around, and they’re being harassed.

And so, authentication is one of the ways it can help smooth, smooth that experience over so it’s the same for both brands and consumers.

LUCI

That’s great, Steven, you know, Live Ramp is a company that offers one of these identifiers. And obviously when you pair it with, you know, good, interesting first-party data, and I believe you at Porch Media Group already have a partnership so that’s great. You know, what’s the key to having a good identifier? I mean, Live Ramp isn’t the only company that offers one of these identifiers out there. But what’s the key to having a good identifier if we were to, you know, educate the folks who’ve joined us today? Can you give us some of those attributes?

STEVE

Yeah, and you know to that point, We see there’s a lot of people out there doing different versions of it, you know, solving for a cookie-less world, right? We look at it as, there’s five key things that we think are most important. When you are considering what identifier, please keep in mind it’s not an either or, it certainly can be both from that perspective.

But number one is you want to make sure that it’s easily connected, right? We at Live Ramp are the industry standard for activation and measurement. And with a single integration with our identifier, you basically get access to the entire ecosystem. So that’s first.

Second you want to make sure that it’s neutral and interoperable. As I mentioned, we are not or I didn’t mention this but we’re not in the media business. Right? We’re not a DSP. We’re not an SSP really. What we see ourselves as, is really the tracks that connect the entire ecosystem, you know, from beginning to end. So you want to make sure that your identifier is neutral, which we are and are so much so, that you can actually get other identifiers within our single integration, and you want to make sure that it’s interoperable.

The other thing, which sort of dovetails a little bit into what we were discussing just before around trust. 

You want to make sure it’s centered around privacy, right? You don’t want to see yourselves on the cover of the Wall Street Journal. You don’t want to have a Sephora incident with your company. You want to make sure that you’re working with a company that’s centered around privacy. You know, Live Ramp is a billion plus dollar publicly traded company. We really take a very hard stance as it relates to privacy and making sure that we’re compliant on both the advertiser side as well as, the publisher side.

Next one is really you want to be, you know, flexible for everyone to use, right? You want to make sure that you have the flexibility to work with all different partners, and you want to make sure that you’re flexible in providing the results that partners need.

Then, most importantly, I don’t want to say most importantly, but as importantly to all the other ones, you want to make sure that whatever you choose scales, right? So if you’re not working with a partner that has the interoperability, has the flexibility, has the connections, you know, that Live Ramp does, you might find yourself in a situation where you can’t execute on the campaigns that you’re looking to execute on.

So, those would be probably the five most important things that I think the folks on the call should think about when evaluating identity solutions.

LUCI

And, Todd, when you’re looking at audience solutions, which are obviously in this diversification, going to be able to, be in this interoperable world, with some kind of identity solution. What should the folks who’ve joined us today think about when they’re looking at the best audience solutions?

TODD

Similar things with Steve is once you’re connecting to that consumer, you want that to be a high quality, consistent identification. Right?

So, as you look at providers whether it’s, you know, the ramp ID or something else, you want to make sure that they’re matching at that same person level versus you using another sort of probabilistic stitches.

That it might be the person, it might not be the person because the whole advantage of the authenticated solution is the accuracy that I am at reaching the consumer I intended to reach. Then also being able to do that with speed. Right? So that’s the other part. It’s kind of there as you, Steve, and this isn’t your talk, but it’s part of it, because of the investments you’ve made.

You can quickly, through LiveRamp services, identify here’s the consumers, convert them to the ramp ID, and then be actively finding them within the ad ecosystem very quickly. Versus a longer, slower match process.

You know, for some of the audiences that we bring to market, there might be a three-week window in which brands want to reach that consumer. If it takes 2 to 3 weeks just to find them in the ad supply chain, you’ve already missed the mark, right?

So that’s one of the other kind of side effects of LiveRamps’ investments, is you can reach them. Not quite in real-time, but virtually real-time.

LUCI

Yeah. And I think, you know, especially from Porch Group Media, again, having a unique first party opportunity, which I know you guys bring to the table and investigating to ensure that, that source is unique, and privacy compliant, and all those things are equally important, as well.

I know those are some of the attributes that Porch Group Media brings to building its audiences.

TODD

Yeah, I mean, I miss that there, is that trust factor, as well? Just as Steve mentioned, as we, you know, identify these consumers, they trust us with their identity because they want the service that helps them sell their home, buy another home, move, and then manage their home from, you know, first apartment to forever home, to downsizing as an empty nester.

When they go through those life stage changes, they’re trusting us with their identity. And so, it’s on us to make sure that they get relevant brands in a way that isn’t bothersome or makes them, I think, what did you say, the icky effect, Steve? 

LUCI

Creepy factor, sometimes marketers would call it the creepy factor.

STEVE

Creepy was actually the word I was looking for. I don’t know how icky came to mind, but I like creepy better.

LUCI

Yeah. You know, CTV’s actually in a unique position, and I wanted to touch on this because it was never in a cookie environment.

You know, Steve, you discussed CTV before having premium content and premium brands, et cetera. Is this kind of lesson in CTV, really, where we’re all going to end up, because CTV never had cookies?

STEVE

So, it’s interesting because, you know, as you mentioned, and as I mentioned at the outset, CTV has always been a cookie-less environment. They rely mostly on IP addresses. It’s historically been, you know, as I’m sure a lot of people on the call know, how people have normally targeted CTV.

But, you know, similar to the death of the cookies, we’re seeing similar challenges around IP addresses. So when you think about, you know, CTV, and the interesting thing is, because they’ve never been sort of relying on the cookie, they’re sort of the poster child in my mind for how you grow an authenticated business.

Right? You have value. In some instances, you pay for, you know, the service, or you’re signing up for it in other instances there could be some combination model of advertising, as well as subscription fees.

But when you look at players, like Disney Plus, HBO Max and Netflix, now that they’re in the advertising business, you know, these platforms are 100% authenticated.

Right? And that should be the shining star for what a lot of the open web should be looking at in how to strive for. And, really, what it comes down to, once again, is, you know, is that value transfer, right?

Am I seeing the value from what I’m providing to these people? In the CTV space, not only are they providing their information, but they’re also providing the wallet in a lot of instances, right? Open web, or, you know, a publisher that somebody happens to visit a couple of times a month might not warrant paying for it, but they certainly are probably providing enough value to garner that e-mail or that authentication from that user.

So, CTV’s interesting, mainly, like we said earlier because, you know, it’s never sort of been a cookie environment, but they’re also seeing similar challenges with the deprecation of identifiers in that world, and they need to focus on authentication. Because, similar to the open web, not every CTV publisher is Disney, and not every CTV publisher is HBO Max, right?

You’ve got a lot of free-mium or free to watch content, and they’re not necessarily getting that and requiring an e-mail from their users, which they likely will need to in the future.

LUCI

Yeah. Interesting. So many, you know, interesting facets to this, and it’s not over, right? We still aren’t in somewhat of a cookie-less environment, despite since 2019-ish saying it was going to die and die fast. Here we are, four years later, still kind of, I think, batting the ball. You think of volleyball just batting the ball, you know, back and forth, kind of waiting for it to die. But yet, it’s not quite dying, but we’re halfway there. And you know, what is that saying in The Princess Bride? “ I’m not dead but I’m half dead.” So it feels like we’re somewhere in there. 

And I think at this time, we’re going to move to questions, and I know Larisa mentioned at the beginning, we would be taking a few questions, and any questions so far Larisa? 

LARISA

Yes we do.

Some of these, I feel like you covered a little bit, but just a little bit more in-depth, I think. I know you had touched on this with cookies going away. What can I do for attribution?

TODD

Right. And so, that’s, and that’s the big one if you focus with cookies going away, and on attribution, one part of it is focusing on that authenticated traffic and planning and executing campaigns based on the consumer, the person, versus the cookie.

And then that enables matched attribution, which can be a different look for sure, than just looking at kind of mass impressions and did I reach, is this a reasonable, effective CPM? But as you convert over to that KPI, it’s repeatable. Brands and advertisers, once you make the leap of faith and you move over to sort of matched attribution, it’s very compelling to stay there.

LARISA

Perfect. Do you feel brands are mostly prepared? Or is there still some confusion about what they should be doing to prepare for this cookie decline?

TODD

Well, I think, uh, I think I’m echoing as Steven was saying about the publisher community, that they have solutions looking towards authentication. It’s, it’s always going to be moving, right?

And as ad dollars ebb and flow brands will always be interested in knowing if this way of reaching consumers is more effective or less effective. Does it scale?

And so, I kind of think of it in that continuum, is if you, if you’re a brand and you’re kind of relying on cookies now and you haven’t thought about how you replace that with an authenticated, person-based solution, you probably should start now.

But at the same time, innovation always happens around media. And the sort of ad units they offer to brands kind of change. And so most advertisers are always looking at that landscape.

And it’s more about, hey, should I allocate more budget to this way of reaching consumers versus another way? I don’t know, Steven, do you have a perspective on that from the publisher’s side?

STEVE

Yes, it’s similar on the publisher side, but I would just say that, you know, the interesting thing about how long it’s taken for the cookie to officially die, it’s given both brands and publishers the opportunity to test. Right? And it’s not always where you have years of data that you can figure out like how the world has changed over time. Because a lot of times they sort of just you know, rip the band-aid off and you’ve got to hope for the best thereafter. So to Todd’s point right? Like, as I try to educate the publishers, if they’re not thinking about it, they should be thinking about it. If they have already implemented it, they should be talking about and figuring out strategies as to how to grow their overall authentication. And then the same thing would be with brands, right? Like, if you’re not thinking about what your media dollars look like in a cookie-less world, to wait for the cookies to be fully deprecated, is not the time to first start thinking about it.

You know, the reality is, is that, as more and more, at least from the publisher’s perspective, as more and more browsers became cookie-less, a lot of the money just shifted to where there were cookies, right? And that’s just because, if enough dollars, if there’s enough inventory to support all the dollars that need to be spent on Chrome, then that’s where the advertisers will continue to do that. But my recommendation on both the publisher side and the brand side, is certainly to be testing when you can actually see a comparison. Because when there’s no more comparison, it’s likely too late at that point.

LARISA

One more question – I thought this was interesting.

So some of the ways advertisers are starting to prepare, include using CDPs, first-party strategies, and building out private ID graphs. Are any of those reliable? Any comments on that?

TODD

I think we touched on building out more first-party data, right?

So if you’re an advertiser and kind of a publisher, understanding the identity of your consumers and prospects is critical to be able to reach them in the supply chain. I’m not sure about a private ID graph.

Have you heard that, Steven? I have not heard of a private ID graph.

STEVE

Yeah, I mean, I haven’t heard it referred to that way. I would probably think that they’re referring to just, you know, their own first-party data and how to leverage that first-party data. So, as I mentioned earlier, right, there are multiple approaches and strategies that a publisher would have in terms of making sure that when cookies are deprecated, that they can continue to operate their business and maximize the revenue that they see from advertising.

Some of that’s going to come from authentication if that’s, you know, if that’s one of the strategies that, hopefully, you’re thinking about. But then, also, depending on the publisher that you are, you have tons of first-party data. And, if you’re able to, with your CDP, your DMP, or whatever technology or acronym that you’re using in terms of trying to capture this data, you have the ability potentially to use that and activate on it from a first-party basis. 

But then, there are a lot of other limitations from that perspective when it’s just your first-party data. So, my advice is that you should be thinking about multiple strategies, which I think we’ve said multiple times here today, especially on the open web.

Because, although authentication is a very good one, it’s not the perfect fit for every publisher. And it’s certainly not going to be 100% of a publisher’s inventory, and audience three.

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