Digital Publishing Guest Columns
4 mins read

5 critical questions for publishers to ask identity solution partners

Many in the industry believe Google’s delay in suspending third-party cookies until 2023 was inevitable with the testing opportunities that have currently been available. But, with 53% of publishers still looking for a solution to address the loss of third-party cookies, it would be naive to take the foot off the pedal. If anything, the delay gives businesses more time to learn, test, and determine the best suite of solutions to improve monetization, prospecting and performance.

Identity is quickly gaining momentum as the most viable third-party cookie alternative for highly scalable, personalized advertising. While identity has already been praised for its ability to enable publishers to build a holistic view of audiences, expand their revenue opportunities, and uphold user rights to privacy, the cookie delay does not change the timeline at all. Chrome is of course only one browser, and many others are already pulling the trigger with Apple becoming more aggressive on tracking for example.

So how can publishers make the most of Google’s delay? When exploring the rapidly expanding market of identity solutions, it is essential they have the best tools as well as all the information possible from their potential data providers. Here are five critical questions publishers should ask:

1. Authenticated vs. open web – which do you support?

Authenticated users are those who share registration or login details when accessing a platform, app, or website. Most often, users’ email addresses form the basis of the identifier and by 2022, forecasts expect publishers to authenticate 20% of their users. Premium media brands with a large digital footprint will find this the easiest to achieve, but how should the wider publishing sector approach this, as well as the remaining 80% of users?

Although authentication is valuable for driving consumer retention, boosting loyalty, and discovering insight around user intent, there’s also top-funnel activities to think of. Diversifying audiences and winning the attention of new segments is as critical to publishers’ business models as retention, meaning open web solutions should be considered as well. To harness the full spectrum of their capabilities, publishers can look into identity solutions for both the authenticated and open web.

2. Will we be utilising enriched or empty IDs?

This question will be vital, as virtually all publishers leverage some method of data enrichment. For example, 44% use survey and panel data from their readers, 38% tap into marketer data, and 19% rely on second-party data from other publishers. Enriched ID solutions – some of which provide as many as 200 behavioral attributes – are designed to support publishers in delivering stronger targeting, frequency management, optimization, and measurement capabilities with a wealth of privacy-compliant data.

Other IDs are empty, however, serving only to leverage first-party data. One thing to consider here is that these solutions may present a risk to accuracy and scale, being grounded in a single contextual visit. Some empty IDs also charge a fee for using them, along with further costs to include data that enables addressability. It’s important to keep an eye on this expense when selecting identity solutions.

3. Regarding user privacy, is your ID transparent or opaque?

Privacy compliance is a necessity for ID solutions, but asking this question will give publishers a deeper perspective of how providers truly approach this issue. As the EU’s GDPR arguably represents the highest standard of user privacy regulation to date, it can inform publishers of what to expect from their identity partners.

Accountability, transparency, and control are the core pillars of the GDPR, meaning publishers should onboard a solution that allows users to easily access, request, and remove their data. Providers that conduct minimal data collection and communicate reliable IDs across all channels can also ensure greater accountability with a clear, auditable trail. Opaque providers, meanwhile, will obfuscate their data sharing practices and tracking methods.

As a client, publishers are entitled to inquire into an identity partner’s audience segment transparency, construction, and scale – to fully understand where the data they use comes from – alongside what practices providers have in place to future-proof their operations.

4. How interoperable is your ID solution?

With the ever-growing number of identity solutions on the market, it’s reasonable to ask if and how they interact with one another. When IDs are interoperable, it reduces potential costs associated with translation activity – otherwise, these fees will need to be accounted for in allocated budgets. If an ID isn’t interoperable by default, then ID sharing across regions and platforms also becomes a lot more complicated. Furthermore, to preserve the value of data enrichment and the capabilities this enables, publishers ideally need a solution that allows IDs to talk to each other, so none of that in-depth insight gets lost in translation.  

5. How can publishers test identity solutions now?

Assessing the efficacy of a new solution is hugely important, and there are multiple ways publishers can approach this. For instance, they can ask partners to set up scenarios that enable media buyers to purchase inventory directly with identity-powered activation. They can also work with their chosen SSPs to test identity-driven Deal IDs or with DSPs that have integrated one or many universal IDs. When testing, publishers must establish and monitor KPIs such as eCPM (effective cost per mille), eCPC (effective cost per click), and viewability to track performance. It may also be wise to consider delivery on Safari, as a proxy for environments that no longer enable third-party cookies. To ensure new or existing identity solutions are driving value, publishers must keep results top of mind.

Finding a solution that’s interoperable with other IDs, on all channels and platforms, will support publishers in effectively growing their revenue and getting closer to their audiences. By opening conversations with these questions, publishers can establish greater transparency with their identity provider and proactively help to build a sustainable, post-cookie ecosystem. The market for ID solutions may be a crowded place, but publishers can make fully informed decisions on which will serve them best.

Chris Hogg
EMEA Managing Director, Lotame


Lotame is the world’s leading unstacked data solutions company, helping publishers, marketers and agencies find new customers, increase engagement, and grow revenue through audience data. As the pioneer DMP thirteen years ago, Lotame has become the trusted data solutions company for global enterprises such as Bloomberg, IBM and Omnicom Group. Lotame is headquartered in New York City, with offices around the world, including London, Singapore, Mumbai and Sydney.