Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

There are no shortcuts, jump on the commuter train to get home quicker

By Jamie Toward, Head of Data, UK & NL, Teads

Standing on the concourse at Liverpool Street Station on Friday night, I’m struck by the comparisons between my personal dilemma of how to get home in time for dinner and the ongoing issues facing the whole digital advertising ecosystem.

The express train is stood at the platform, but the signage clearly states that it is delayed, but with no projection of when it might leave and garbled messages over the tannoy of the reasons it’s not on time. In contrast, the commuter train is ready to go, but stops several times. It is, however, running on time and will get me home at the same time as the delayed express.

My choice is whether I risk waiting for the express to resolve its problems and get me home, or whether I jump on the commuter train now with its multiple stops. It will take longer but I figure at least I’m de-risking not getting home at all.

It’s only fast if it’s moving

And this is the situation our industry faces today. There are those who are holding out for the ‘Google Express’ to resolve the complex set of issues facing us. We know that Google’s solution will be scaled and should be accurate for advertisers, but with one delay already under its belt how soon can it clear the other issues facing it and pull out of the station? Having just reached agreement with the UK’s CMA, Google still faces potential track blockages with legal cases in both the USA and Europe, compounded by the EPC consortium of publishers filing a further anti-trust suit. How soon can publishers and advertisers expect this particular train to start on its journey? The technical release of Topics means the industry can at least begin to test the Google solution to cookie deprecation. There’s no reason to doubt that it will work well and at the scale advertisers need. But the EPC posits a short term hit of up to 70% of revenues in the short term “in the absence of an effective replacement” to third party cookies. That’s a big revenue gap to be facing.

And so, we turn to the “departures board” to check alternative routes home.

It’s important to understand that the open web is already, largely, cookie free. The average usable cookie rate globally hovers at 60%. In some markets, like the UK and US, it’s below 50%. And the truth is that some vendors have had cookieless solutions in market for years. In the cookieless comparison tests that Teads has done, the results show parity in media metrics and progression in Brand KPIs. This is great news for advertisers. While considering the wait for the express, they can know the alternative route home is clear and on time.

A dilemma for both sides of the aisle

For publishers, the outlook should be similarly optimistic. Knowing that good partners are already generating significant demand against cookieless solutions should be encouraging. In fact, the truth is that revenues for cookieless targeting strategies are already delivering against publisher’s users. That 40% of cookieless open web is already being monetised.

But the issue remains of how publishers transition as the 60% of the open web that is cookie reliant heads towards the buffers.

Knowing that demand is already there, results are positive and options exist should provide encouragement. But action is required urgently to “mind the gap”.

Publishers are also beginning to sign up for Unique ID solutions. This is a great step in finding an alternate identity-based solution to the third-party cookie but it will also require a new set of initiatives from publishers to start driving the collection of logged-in data. With that comes an inevitable set of concerns, as it changes the user experience and may lead to short-term dips in scale. The value exchange between publishers and users will need to be explicitly communicated in order to minimise that dip. But starting sooner rather than later will help mitigate revenue impacts.

Understand your options to make an informed choice

Solutions exist that provide value to both publishers and advertisers in the face of oncoming cookie deprecation, the need for action and testing is paramount. Only through collaboration between publishers, advertisers, agencies and ad tech can this particular train continue to gain pace on its way home.

Both the Google express and the alternate commuter trains will form part of my journey home in the future. But, for now, I’m catching the one with multiple stops. I know it will get me home and there’s steak and frites for dinner.

*Teads is a client of Bluestripe Communications, owned by Bluestripe Group, owner of NDA