Stop Talking About the Cookieless Future and Start Taking These Actions

In the past 12 months, a wave of ill-conceived, unsecure and unexceptional identity solutions has been evangelized by companies seeking to make a quick buck or increase their influence over the industry.

As marketers face the deprecation of the third-party cookie in 2022, it’s crucial that they transition away from cookies and other risky identifiers sooner rather than later. It may be difficult to determine the best path forward, but here’s some advice on how marketers can shift to an omnichannel identity solution to provide consumers the seamless, relevant and privacy-compliant experiences they increasingly expect.

Start with comprehensive and omnichannel people-based identity

Some identity technologies rely exclusively on a single characteristic, like email, and claim it’s good enough. This isn’t true. My own family of five, for example, has over 30 distinct email addresses across the household. Mistakenly using only one of these emails to identify customers would force marketers to make decisions using an inadequate set of information. Identity should be people-based and contain a wide variety of deterministic and permission-based characteristics. Many retailers, for example, have increased their reach by 40% or more by adding mobile phone numbers to their identity decisions.

Consumers are omnipresent and marketers should prioritize an identity solution that is as well. However, some solutions only address part of the puzzle, solving identity for digital or very narrow use cases (e.g., programmatic or mobile). This is a huge red flag, as these narrow identifiers significantly increase complexity for marketers, who subsequently must plan and execute each tactic using different technologies. Further, the marketer is not able to measure performance across the different channels, and the consumer does not have a consistent brand experience.

Building a connected view requires people-based technology that can translate identity from multiple media sources, as well as outcome data, into a common identity language. This common language powers intelligence, experiences, analytics and measurement across a complicated customer experience journey.

Compliance and safety are essential

Don’t use solutions that bypass direct consent! Passive and synthetic identifiers, such as fingerprinting, use signals not meant to be used for identification and provide no way to opt-out. From a privacy perspective, it amounts to invisible lurking. Regulators, and every major browser, have already vowed to combat these “solutions,” which put a brand’s reputation at risk and can cause a brand to lose consumer trust.

Instead, ensure direct user authentication. As consumers engage across media, they log in, subscribe, follow and identify themselves in different ways. To use identity to create experiences, marketers must connect a customer’s identity with their method of authentication—this is called addressability. Without addressability in a media environment, identity cannot be applied to create a personalized experience or be used for measurement.

Demand neutrality and interoperability

Neutrality means a company or solution is unbiased and independent of media-buying platforms. If an identity vendor also buys or sells media, they are inherently not neutral. Additionally, if you don’t know exactly how your data is being used, then it’s probably being used in ways you wouldn’t like. Some identifiers enable pooling, which may mean your customers are shared with competitors, aggregated into new data segments that can be purchased by other companies, or used to refine internal algorithms to benefit other companies.

Marketers also need to make sure their solutions can scale along with their growth and have supporting infrastructure that is widely adopted by publishers and industry platforms. The bonus of interoperability: As new technologies and use cases emerge, you’ll be ready.

Choose a partner with global scale

Global commerce requires marketers to reach consumers around the world. Even predominantly U.S.-based companies serve customers across many markets. Naturally, this requires a solution that scales globally and can help marketers make the connections they need to drive the business outcomes they desire.

Prioritize real performance

Unfortunately, some marketers are still focused on the wrong metrics when evaluating identity providers. Believing match rates are an important metric fails to recognize that they can easily be increased by unscrupulous providers willing to dial down their accuracy. It’s far more important to ensure that providers can deliver accurate reach, across all channels and partners, and ultimately better consumer experiences with results – measures of real performance. While third-party cookie and IDFA restrictions might change workflows, it’s exciting to know that authenticated identity generates far better results than the status quo.

Fitbit, using LiveRamp’s authenticated identifier, is a case study that should give marketers confidence to move beyond cookies. The company ran parallel campaigns using LiveRamp’s identifier vs. cookies with the same audience definition. The results? The team doubled its return on ad spend and increased average order value by 13% in comparison to third-party cookie targeting. This isn’t an isolated success. A major consumer electronics manufacturer recently delivered a 11% increase in ROI and 15% decrease in cost per acquisition using LiveRamp’s identifier relative to cookies.

While this is transformational for marketers, publishers also can generate significant upside. Early analysis shows that, on average, publishers are seeing meaningful improvement in revenue they can realize for their advertising inventory. On Chrome, yields increased by 50% through LiveRamp’s Authenticated Traffic solution. Not surprisingly, on browsers that currently block cookies, the impact was even greater. For example, publishers are realizing a staggering 375% yield improvement on Safari traffic!

It’s a new year, and a new opportunity for marketers to dramatically improve their performance while cookie-proofing their technology. With IDFA changes now upon us, and Chrome cookie deprecation slated to occur in coming months, there’s never been a better time to migrate your marketing efforts to authenticated, omnichannel identity.