Can Brand Lift Studies Help in Cookieless Attribution?
It’s a new week and there’s a new story on how the industry is trying to mitigate the impact of the cookieless environment. As you know, publishers are receiving requests from advertisers for data partnerships lately. First-party data can help media buyers to run targeted ads. And, now they [publishers] are seeing increased demand for brand-uplit studies.
Why? Well, we still rely on third-party cookies to attribute conversions with the campaigns and advertisers are looking to replace it with brand uplift studies. In other words, post-campaign surveys and polls.
“We definitely have the view that this will increase in the next six months or so. These types of studies are hard to do … most companies still don’t have a multi-touchpoint attribution system in place.”
– Bedir Aydemir, Head of Audience and Data, Commercial, News UK.
Not for Everyone:
Brand life studies are used to quantify the uplift in brand awareness, consideration, intent to purchase, etc. and yes, it goes beyond clicks. For larger companies with deep-pocketed budgets, publishers offer pre- and post-campaign reports.
But mid-sized and long-tail publishers wouldn’t be able to offer any post-campaign surveys. Because research companies often charge tens of thousands of dollars ($37,500) for a brand uplift study and in some cases, the cost is higher than the campaign budget itself. Brands pass on the cost to the publishers and so, at the end of the day, publishers should run the uplift studies.
“A lot of advertisers and agencies push that cost on to publishers. While it’s great to prove our efficiency, for smaller campaigns it’s not cost-effective to do that study.”
Brand uplift studies can help marketers to learn more about the competitors as well. So, publishers are leveraging the insights to extend the campaign budgets. For instance, Netmums, ran four targeted on-site surveys on behalf of clients and used the results to double the campaign size this year.
To be frank, this isn’t completely new. But Google’s announcement accelerated the whole process. Typically, brands use research polls as an add-on to understand more about the campaigns. Now, they are using to see if they can attribute campaigns (mostly, direct) to the results.
Will LiveRamp’s IdentityLink Survive the Cookie Apocalypse?
Universal IDs are gaining popularity for the problem that they aren’t solving — cookieless targeting. Shared or Universal IDs are developed to bypass the inefficiencies of cookie syncing and improve the match rates. But as the industry is bracing to face the cookieless ecosystem, identity vendors are upgrading their use cases. In fact, the ultimate goal is to become the ID that stitches the supply chain together when the cookies are completely phased out from the browsers.
Though there are several identity solutions in the market, LiveRamp’s IdentityLink is expected to have an upper hand. Why? Because unlike other IDs, IdentityLink is supported by offline and first-party data on top of cookies.
Matching the Web:
That doesn’t mean the IdentityLink will stand unaffected. The identity graph requires cookies to match users with deterministic profiles. To put it another way, IdentityLink IDs are matched with web users with the help of cookies. If there’s no cookie, then the profiles (IDs) can’t be matched with the users.
So, what happens when cookies are no more?
IdentityLink can use some other form of data to do the job. For example, email addresses. Instead of cookies, publishers can collect email IDs of the users and use the same to match it with the IdentityLink. Now, there’s an ID for the users to perform one-to-one targeting on the open web. If publishers are getting clear consent, then they are complying with the privacy laws as well.
“Anyone that does onboarding is heavily cookie dependent, of course, but LiveRamp has a referential backbone of first-party and PII consumer data that they can translate over to the digital side. It puts them in a pretty good position to reorient their capabilities, even though right now they still rely on cookies for activation.”
– Joe Stanhope, a VP and principal analyst at Forrester.
Who’s buying it?
According to LiveRamp, 12 SSPs, 30 DSPs, and 8,000 publishers have agreed to adopt the solution. It will release the free registration product for publishers to increase the adoption of the IdentityLink.
At first glance, the plan might seem perfect. But what if, browsers decide to block IdentityLink IDs housed in first-party cookies? That’s one thing no one has the answer for yet. Then, there’s scale. Publishers typically convert only a fraction of readers into email subscribers and so most of the users wouldn’t be matched with LiveRamp’s identity graph.
Hear it from Ari Paparo, CEO of Beeswax/adtech veteran:
Concert Local, A New Network For Local Publishers
Vox Media recently partnered with Google to launch Concert Local, a content and audience marketplace focussed at local publishers. It is an extension of the four-year-old marketplace called Concert.
What is Concert?
Concert was started jointly by Vox Media and NBCUniversal. Both the media groups started by selling the premium inventory on their properties to big brands. Vox Media Group has many premium properties like The Verge, SB Nation, GrubStreet, etc. Similarly, NBCUniversal has NBC News, NBC Sports, etc. Currently, the Concert site displays 45 properties, and it promises brands- “Your ads will run on these sites, and these sites only.” Over 700 brands have used Concert.
What’s new with the “Local”?
Vox Media and Google News Initiative have launched Concert Local to expand the collection with local media brands on the platform. The current list of the partners has a dozen publishers including Advance Local, Boston Globe, Chicago Sun-Times, CNHI, Dallas Morning News, Deseret News, Hearst Newspapers, Star Tribune, Tampa Bay Times, and Texas Monthly. More partnerships will be announced in the future. The investment for this initiative is expected to be around 1 million dollars.
Concert Local already focusses on the geographically concentrated audience. It also enables advertisers to take advantage of the location data. For example, advertisers can direct users to nearby physical stores, ads can be based on the current weather situations.
What’s in there for local publishers?
In the past, local publishers could sell their inventories to bigger brands only through individual deals, but now, the publishers will be able to enlist their inventory in the giant pool created by Concert Local. Since bigger brands will be buying from this pool, there will be a higher possibility for the inventory to reach premium buyers.
Such partnerships can be a big boon for smaller publishers. Akin to private setups, direct access to bigger brands can help in improving revenue. A concentrated audience (in this case local audience) is easier to target and hence inventories from such sites will be sought by the buyers. Especially in the future without the cookie, the easier it is to target the audience on your site, the better the revenue will be.
Coronavirus and Keyword Blacklisting
Losing revenue due to keyword blacklisting has been a common problem for publishers. Content with keywords that have been blacklisted by the advertisers is difficult to monetize. Advertisers block certain keywords to prevent their ads from appearing on pieces of content that lack brand-safety. This is the reason why news articles related to deaths, accidents, etc. generate lesser revenue.
As the virus has been spreading at an exponential rate, so is the interest for it. More and more users are searching for content related to it. But since most of the content about coronavirus is upsetting, more and more advertisers are blocking it. The rate of blocking is so high that in January, ‘coronavirus’ was the eighth most-blocked keyword, and in February, it reached the top-second spot. Therefore the traffic on the coronavirus topic is rising but the revenue is not following the same trajectory.
The Inefficiency continues:
As it has always been the case with keyword blacklisting, the brand-safe content is also being blocked. An article on the best practices to avoid the infection is as likely to be blocked as an article on increasing death toll due to the virus. This inefficiency causes huge losses to the publishers. There are no perfect tools for advertisers to differentiate safe content from unsafe content.
The problem is not new and we will suggest what we have suggested earlier, ie try to avoid blacklisted keywords. We know that it won’t be possible when the topic of the content will be related to the virus itself but there is a silver lining. It is expected that internet usage will be more than normal while people are staying back at home to avoid infection. Publishers can capitalize on this opportunity by engaging the audience with brand-safe content.
Moments that Matter
Marketers look to reap benefits of Apple’s new push notification ad rules – Digiday.
The Washington Post wants to join your group chat (and help your not-into-politics friends keep up) – Nieman Lab.
Dailymotion Joins Prebid.org Community to Endorse Transparency in the Ad Tech Ecosystem – MarTechSeries.
Adtech giant Criteo is being investigated by France’s data watchdog – TechCrunch.