New Publishing Tech
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Levelling the publisher playing field: Q&A with LiveRamp

It’s been a busy time for LiveRamp, the data connectivity platform focused on ‘the safe and effective use of data’ – the company recently announced a partnership with Index Exchange, one of the world’s largest independent ad exchanges, to roll out LiveRamp’s identifier solution globally.

With the move away from third-party cookies clearly gathering momentum, WNIP caught up with Zara Erismann, MD Publisher Europe, LiveRamp, to find out more…

Can you give us some background about your company?

We are headquartered in the tech hub of San Francisco, California, but we operate on an international scale with offices in seven major cities across the globe including London and Paris. Our infrastructure delivers end-to-end addressability for the world’s top brands, agencies, and publishers.

What business problem is your company addressing?

Publishers need a solution to maintain and grow digital ad revenue in the face of regulatory headwinds and the loss of common identifiers such as third-party cookies. Our business is dedicated to addressing four key challenges publishers currently face:

Ecosystem fragmentation: Independent publishers are struggling to deliver what advertisers require due to fragmentation of the ecosystem. With every platform having its own identifier, it causes significant data loss on activation and measurement, and makes it difficult for advertisers to reach people-based audiences on the same scale as the walled gardens.

Dominance of the walled gardens: From Instant Articles on Facebook to Sign in with Apple and everything in between, the walled gardens continue to simultaneously disintermediate publishers from their users while taking a disproportionate sum of ad budgets. LiveRamp’s Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS) enables publishers to effectively create addressability at scale from first-party data rooted in consumer consent and a trusted value exchange.

Privacy regulations: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and other privacy regulations, which led to browser restrictions, have made it more difficult for publishers to effectively monetise content. While compliance with privacy regulations may pose a challenge, ultimately, they should be viewed as opportunities for the industry, not roadblocks.

The end of the third-party cookie: Google’s decision to deprecate third-party cookies by January 2022 means the industry needs a new, privacy-conscious way of identifying, reaching and measuring the consumer journey. In response, LiveRamp has been at the forefront of helping create a new, trusted ecosystem and identity infrastructure that doesn’t rely on third-party cookies and ultimately results in a better, safer internet.

What is your core product addressing this problem?

For the last four years, LiveRamp has been championing the movement for a people-based ecosystem. In 2016, we introduced LiveRamp identifier to provide people-based, omnichannel data connectivity. From there we launched the Advertising ID Consortium in 2017, to enable people-based identity in the bidstream. Our people-based identifier has subsequently been made available to supply-side platforms (SSPs), demand-side platforms (DSPs) and publisher partners at no cost, to help transition the open web from cookie-based to people-based, and level the playing field with the walled gardens.

In 2019, we launched a suite of publisher solutions including ATS, which enables people-based advertising on authenticated, cookieless inventory – bringing the power of the walled gardens to the open internet. ATS provides enhanced user privacy by offering consumers more control over how their data is being used.

The publisher benefits of using ATS include:

  • Increased programmatic revenue on data-driven and cookieless inventory
  • Support of innovative and privacy-centric reader engagement models
  • Increased advertiser demand while maintaining a responsive user experience

ATS is complementary to our other initiatives, which all work together to offer publishers and their technology partners a path to sustainable business models. LiveRamp’s ultimate aim is to lay the foundation of a trusted ecosystem that provides a clear, fair value exchange for every platform, marketer, and publisher – all with consumer privacy at the very center.

Can you give some examples of publishers successfully using your solution?

dataxu (now Roku), the leading provider of programmatic marketing software, was the first company to utilize LiveRamp’s identifier in the bidstream, enabling brands and agencies to buy media with greater precision and manage frequency and targeting at the person-level in a privacy-conscious way.

Cookie match rates are notoriously low, ranging from just 30-40% due to syncing issues every time a match must be conducted: from DMP to DSP to SSP, etc. The benefits of buying on LiveRamp’s identifier natively instead of through third-party cookies are that it allows advertisers to significantly reduce the data loss endemic to cookie-based, programmatic activation. The outcome for advertisers using dataxu was a 24% increase in CTR and a 2.26% reduction in CPC versus cookie-based buying. Reach was also increased without sacrificing accuracy, and advertisers were able to target an audience 3x the size.

Publishers using LiveRamp’s solution via dataxu were also able to command 20% higher CPMs enabled dataxu to safely and securely unify the customer experience across all touchpoints so that marketers were better able to activate customer data across OTT streaming devices and experience 100% audience match between dataxu and SSPs.

Pricing?

ATS and supporting technology to enable LiveRamp Authenticated Identity Infrastructure is provided at no cost to SSPs, DSPs and publishers.

What are other people doing in the space and why?

The key points of difference between ATS and other ID solutions on the market is that ours are neutral, interoperable, omnichannel and people-based rather than device-based.

ATS requires EU and UK publishers to have a privacy-first, opt-in solution, i.e., a CMP, in place for users; we want to change the way the industry is thinking to put consumers first, which is why we also conduct privacy policy reviews with our Data Ethics team prior to allowing any publisher to go live. Doing so allows us to provide a consent-driven approach to people-based data connectivity and offer greater value to a consumer as it allows publishers to speak directly to them – not only across desktop and mobile in-app, but also CTV.

LiveRamp enables enterprises to resolve hundreds of different identifiers for individuals used on devices, marketing platforms and in their own internal systems to a real person in a privacy-first manner, without relying on third-party cookies.

Finally, LiveRamp encodes its identifier on a partner-by-partner basis to provide safe and trusted scale across the ecosystem. It protects against data loss, hacking and unintended data merging – a unique differentiator from unified and universal IDs – and if problems arise from one partner, the entire ecosystem remains safe.

How do you view the future?

While Covid-19 has inevitably meant change in the industry, our aspirations as a business remain the same. We’re fortunate to be forecasting growth as we navigate this difficult period, and over the coming year, we intend to increase investment in our infrastructure and future growth initiatives such as TV and Safe Haven, our new platform that enables brands and their partners to build secure, permission-enabled data partnerships.

The major change to the future of the industry will be the demise of the third-party cookie and it’s essential that publishers face up to this now. Publishers, brands and vendors have a golden opportunity to become part of a trusted ecosystem with individuals’ rights at the core. However, action must be taken immediately, rather than in January 2022 when it may be too late – two years is a timeline, not a deadline, and the next 18 months will pass quicker than we expect.

A trusted ecosystem is essential to strengthen relationships between publishers, consumers and brands, and key to this is a worthy value exchange that works through first-party user authentications. When an individual offers data in exchange for something they care about, such as content from a publisher, a trusted first-party relationship is established.

From there, data can be used appropriately, ethically and with the right permissions to deliver better services, experiences and ongoing engagement. Knowing how data is used, and having the ability to control it, puts individuals in the driver’s seat and builds connections based on mutual respect between all parties. This is the ecosystem that LiveRamp is working to create, and it’s the one that will secure the very best future for publishers in a cookieless world.

Anything else we should know about?

All of the recent shifts within the industry including browsers’ decisions to block third-party cookies, privacy regulation and legislation such as the GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have arguably been led by consumer sentiments towards advertising. This is why a move to a people-based ecosystem that is based on trust and transparency is so key: unless advertisers and publishers regain and retain the respect of consumers on an industry-wide basis, then we risk further alienating the very people we’re trying to reach.

As part of LiveRamp’s ongoing commitment to making this ecosystem a reality, we have developed LiveRamp Safe Haven, a new platform, which is all about enabling next-generation data partnerships. The vision for this platform is to create natural data partnerships between brands and their partners to deliver the best possible customer experiences.

Thank you.

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