Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

A solution for cookieless: Capitalising on first-party data via curated marketplaces

Christian Abi Jaber, Associate Director, Solutions Consulting at Xandr

With the demise of third-party cookies in 2023 and 26% of web inventory in Europe currently blocking these cookies, advertisers are actively looking for new solutions to continue targeting audiences on their campaigns. Meanwhile, publishers need alternative monetization strategies to continue to maximise the value of their inventory. 

One key area for this is first-party data, where publishers can offer a scalable solution to advertisers. After all, a publisher is best suited to identify its own audience and contextualise its inventory.

Moving away from the third-party cookie

It’s common practice for a publisher to monetise its first-party data via deals, packaging its own inventory with audience and/or contextual data. This activity requires a sales team to go “door-to-door” and sell those deals to advertisers. 

Currently, advertisers rely mostly on cookie-based third-party data that they attach to their campaigns to target specific audiences or for retargeting. While retargeting on a wider scale may prove tricky without third-party cookies, targeting audiences is still possible thanks to the publishers’ first-party data. 

When third-party cookies disappear, the demand for publishers’ first-party data will significantly increase especially without any complete, unanimously adopted and scalable identity solution in sight. 

However not all publishers possess a sales team and no sales team can cover all the advertising market and the increasing demand for first-party data, so what other options are available? This situation is similar to the time when ad exchanges were created to bring together supply and demand more easily thus replacing 1-to-1 relationships. 

Are curated marketplaces the solution?

Curated marketplaces are the ad exchanges of today. A curated marketplace can be thought of as a bespoke marketplace that exists within a larger marketplace. The curated marketplace is designed and built to address certain challenges and provide specific value. Curated marketplaces allow buyers, sellers or third-parties in the media space to implement their supply strategies and leverage their core assets within a broad ad exchange. This allows them to solve a host of core challenges for buyers. 

Applying curated marketplaces in this context is a win-win situation for both advertisers and publishers. The sell-side platform (SSP) is in this case best placed to play the role of the curator, bringing together publishers and advertisers around specific data. A catalogue of first-party data (audience and contextual) needs to be pre-defined by the curator. 

On one hand, for each catalogue item, the publisher can give the curator a deal that includes its inventory and the matching first-party data. A deal floor price can be set on this deal. Publishers can then use any identity solution they want to upload their audience to their SSP as long as the SSP supports it. Contextual data can be added using key-values received from the page and/or using the publisher’s granular inventory structure. 

Publishers will maintain full control over their first-party data which will stay in their ecosystem and never be shared directly with advertisers. Additionally, they will benefit from a high scalability of their first-party deals via the curated marketplace which is seamlessly integrated with all demand-side platforms (DSPs). Data leakage will also be reduced to the bare minimum as third-party cookies are not available anymore so any attempt to reconstruct data via creative pixels will prove fruitless.

On the other hand, advertisers can target and buy curated deals from the catalogue which each encapsulates hundreds of first-party publisher deals. They don’t need to negotiate deals with each publisher separately and waste time. Instead the advertiser can target the curated deals mostly aligned with their buying strategy and double it down with domain whitelists, brand safety segments and other targeting parameters. Advertisers gain efficiency, scalability and reach. 

Some value will be lost in a cookieless world but a significant part of it can be salvaged via curated marketplaces based on first-party publisher deals. This initiative offers scalability, better reach and control over the data. Access to first-party data is one of the many use cases for curated marketplaces. 

Are you ready for the next evolution of programmatic advertising: the age of curation?

* Xandr is a client of Bluestripe Communications, owned by Bluestripe Group the owner of NDA.