Advertising Week 360, Julian Baring, General Manager-North America, Adform

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While third-party cookies have made it very easy to enable personalized marketing, they also come with disadvantages such as limited life spans, consumer and regulatory scrutiny, as well as a range of other issues. Switching to first-party cookies is likely to bring further benefits to marketers, especially over the long term. Let’s take a look at why the ongoing shift to a first-party world is a good thing for marketers.

More Transparency and Less Fraud

With programmatic trading moving to first-party IDs, the impressions and connected data become fully traceable and accountable between publishers and advertisers. Discrepancies, hidden fees, arbitrage and fraud might go hand-in-hand with third-party cookies and non-transparent cookie-syncing, but they do not have a place in the world of end-to-end publisher-based IDs. In other words, the shift to first-party cookies alleviates a tremendous headache and vulnerability for today’s brands.

Superior Data End-to-End

Third-party cookies live for 7-10 days. When they vanish, their absence has a huge impact on many marketing disciplines and use cases. Essentially, a given user vanishes from a brand’s site and their user experience with the company becomes fractured. On the other hand, first-party IDs and data can be persistent for months or even years, allowing marketers to build connections and deepen relationships across channels over time.

Enhanced Marketing

All brands have much longer sales and customer lifetime cycles than the life of a third-party cookie. As adtech and martech switch to persistent first-party IDs, people-based marketing can truly take off. This is particularly true as it relates to frequency capping efforts. 

Frequency capping based on persistent first-party cookies or login IDs makes it possible to restore frequency capping on Safari, Firefox and similar environments. With first-party login IDs and data flowing into the programmatic pipes, the promise of people-based marketing at scale is no longer only for the big walled gardens.

Better User Experience, Privacy and Compliance

Streamlining the number of cookies and pixels dropped into a browser will improve the user experience. Additionally, there will be further accountability and transparency when it comes to GDPR consent and CCPA opt-out from the ID owner to the advertiser. This, in turn, makes it much easier to fully comply with the regulation. Also, in a first-party ID world, the need for external scripts and content is reduced significantly, opening a door for all advertising to happen on a purely server-to-server basis.

Premium Content will grow

Premium publishers and the content will benefit in multiple ways from first-party cookies, particularly as it relates to improved monetization and growth. Premium content is the key to getting user log-ins, unlocking significant revenue potential in first-party open ecosystems where companies enable people-based advertising and first-party data activation, making the inventory more competitive compared to the walled gardens.

Buyers will focus spend on premium publishers and less on long-tail and low-quality content due to limitations of fragmented first-party publisher IDs and data. Data leakage from premium publishers—for example, to networks collecting data through pixels—vanishes without third-party cookies, thereby increasing the value of data for the publishers.

Although many players in the industry are fretting over the deprecation of third-party cookies and myriad other updates with regard to user tracking capabilities, all signs point toward a future ruled by first-party cookies and data. That’s a privacy-first, user-centric future we should all embrace—publishers, marketers and consumers alike.