With recent Google announcements stirring the advertising industry into a flurry of action in navigating what the future of identity and advertising looks like, now is the time to question what we–as an industry–are doing to encourage a free and open internet that fosters a level playing field for brands, agencies, publishers, and consumers alike. 

At this year’s Ashton Media Programmatic Summit, I joined IAB Australia in a panel that discussed re-architecting digital marketing as well as the future of identity in advertising. I’m excited to be a part of Quantcast as we accelerate our involvement in the current global wave to navigate changes and ascertain responsible privacy practices. 

What Is Quantcast Doing to Support our Position on Consumer Privacy?

The open internet is a force for good, and the demise of third-party cookies, along with the resulting global upheaval in consumer privacy protection, has been a long time coming.

Currently, around 40% of third-party cookies on the internet already have been wiped out. Building a more sustainable and reliable way of reaching audiences as well as measuring performance across the whole web–including Safari & Firefox–can only be a good thing for marketers.

With a huge variety of options in how we connect, consume content, and make purchases on the internet, Quantcast doesn’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all solution to identity. Rather, there is a developing patchwork of similar and interoperable solutions. Within this assortment, two camps seem to be emerging: one based upon individual identification and one based upon group identification or “cohorts.” 

At Quantcast we are backing both horses: investing in a one-to-one solution for addressability of individuals and a cohort-like solution for audiences at scale. For one-to-one identification with individuals, we are leveraging Quantcast Choice, our Consent Management Platform, which manages and shares more consent signals within Europe’s Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF 2.0) than any other consent management platform.

For group identification, we’re using a proprietary first-party ID graph from our pixel that’s used on over 100 million web destinations, to understand intent through internet browsing.

Are Cohorts the New Cookie Pool?

Audience cohorts do look like cookie pools in many ways, except for one key difference: they do not need a persistent identifier. Therefore, scale is manageable, and as long as the cohorts are only ever used in the aggregate, they can be extremely accurate for reaching audiences and measuring performance.

For example, let’s say we have our Quantcast pixels on two independent publisher sites, QC_123 and QC_456. With nothing to connect these two independent first-party cookies, the only way to tell if the same person is looking at both sites is to examine the 18,000+ attributes we review behind these two pixels. 

We use machine learning to look for compelling similarities and infer if the user of each site is likely to be the same person. If we create a minimum match score of, say, 98%, once we have one matched user using this probabilistic methodology, we can do this over and over again, then further filter the group through Baysian logic and create an internet-size cohort.

This tactic should not be used for one-to-one marketing to individuals, but in the aggregate. This is a statistically accurate solution for both reaching audiences and measuring performance–all achieved without any cross-site identifiers, but rather through machine learning.

The Path Forward for Publishers

The near future could be pretty tough on publishers as the walled gardens make more moves to support only their own content. However, the North Star for publishers still remains a privacy-first, consent-based framework that leverages first-party data. The challenge for publishers has always been, and still is, how to scale this framework and avoid empty impressions, (i.e., impressions where there is no data available for retargeting). 

While the legislation for digital data use in Australia is still largely liberal compared to that of other geographies like the EU, there is increased scrutiny worldwide on digital advertising. For publishers, having access to first-party consent facilitates maximum preparedness for when that day comes.

For publishers starting their journey into a first-party data approach with digital advertising, it may be useful to think about all of your inventory as a pyramid. At the top is your own first-party data that you have managed to create, either through commercial, content, or privacy-based incentives. Partnering with companies like Quantcast and using our Permisio product can help you with this step.

On the second level is a layer of first-party data that you’ve matched with your key clients. This stage is when you can get closer to your key partners and their first-party data strategies. Companies like LiveRamp, Adobe, Quantcast, and The Trade Desk can offer you ways of making this connection.

On the third level is an audience you have created through being part of a “cohort”-type solution, where your users’ activity on other sites can help you to understand more about them, to be utilised by you, when they are back on your site. Again, Quantcast can help with this stage.

Finally, based on the above three levels of data, you can build out your contextual and PMP solutions that maximise your inventory value.

While the total implications of Google’s shift away from both third-party cookies and alternative identifiers on digital advertising are not immediately clear right now, one thing is for sure: it is forcing us to examine how we’re going to shape content and consumption experiences for tomorrow’s internet users and what our legacy will be to the next generation of digital natives.

Each brand, agency, and publisher will no doubt have different strategies and prioritise different initiatives based upon their unique circumstance, but our industry now has access to more advanced tools and solutions than ever before, and we are well placed to start testing what the ideal identity framework should look like in a consumer-first world, right now. 

Interested in Learning More?

Check out more of our blog posts on identity and consumer privacy:

Or contact us to learn how our identity solutions can help you protect and maximise ad revenue and optimise your consent rates.