Alternative IDs emerge as a tool of choice in a world free of third-party cookies

By Håkan Hamrin

Stampen Media

Gothenburg, Sweden


I previously wrote about universal IDs as a way to handle third-party cookies when they depreciate. In this article, I dive deeper into the world of universal IDs and alternative identifiers.

What alternative IDs really are

Here is the description from ChatGPT: “In programmatic advertising, an alternative ID refers to any identifier other than third-party cookies that is used to track and target users across Web sites and devices. These alternative IDs can include hashed e-mail addresses, device IDs, or other proprietary identifiers.

News media companies have a number of different options when it comes to selecting alternative IDs in the wake of the depreciation of third-party cookies.
News media companies have a number of different options when it comes to selecting alternative IDs in the wake of the depreciation of third-party cookies.

“The use of alternative IDs is becoming increasingly important due to the limitations imposed on third-party cookies by Web browsers and privacy regulations. They enable advertisers to continue targeting and personalising ads to users without relying solely on cookies.”

According to ChatGPT, some of the benefits of alternative IDs in programmatic advertising include:

  • Enhanced user targeting: Alternative IDs allow advertisers to target specific audiences more accurately, based on attributes such as e-mail addresses, device IDs, or other identifiers associated with user behaviour or demographics.
  • Improved cross-device tracking: With alternative IDs, advertisers can track users across multiple devices and platforms, providing a more comprehensive understanding of user behaviour and enabling more effective ad targeting and frequency capping.
  • Increased privacy compliance: Alternative IDs can help advertisers comply with privacy regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) by providing a way to track and target users without relying on third-party cookies, which are subject to stricter regulations.
  • Long-term user engagement: By building a database of alternative IDs associated with user attributes and behaviours, advertisers can establish more meaningful and long-term relationships with users, leading to higher engagement and retention rates.

Alternative IDs play a crucial role in enabling targeted and personalised advertising in a post-cookie world. They also address privacy concerns and regulatory requirements.

If we look deeper into this, we can find a lot of IDs you can enable through programmatic protocols. Examples include: Shared ID, Lotame Panorama ID, ID5, Liveramp, UID2,Teads ID, Criteo ID, Quantcast ID, Google Pair ID, Pub provided ID, and Gravito ID.

You might notice that several of these are for just that actor. Others are wider IDs that work on whatever platform you are using. Most notable are Shared ID, which is Prebid’s own ID, and Pub provided id, which lets the publisher send its own ID in the bid stream.

Which IDs to use, if any, depends on a lot of factors

Where your demand comes from is one important factor. There is a lot of difference between IDs that are the most effective if you are based in Europe or North America, for example. There are also differences between countries. So, if you want to use alternative IDs, the first step is to identify what IDs your buyers are using.

Not all publishers want to use alternative IDs. However, there are some arguments you should at least try.

What are the effects, then? Looking at the Swedish market, our supply doesn’t have large effects yet. That might change when 100% of Chrome is blocking third-party cookies, depending on the buyers, of course.

We have done some A/B tests on Stampen Media inventory, which have around 99% Swedish traffic. Therefore, it’s not a good idea to take these numbers as a truth in other countries. And, even in Sweden, other publishers might see other results due to the buyers and the demand sources the publishers have.

In the A/B test, we saw uplift for the actors with their own ID. This is not very surprising, but it is nice to know it’s worth something to have it active.

For the more universal IDs there was a wider spread of numbers. Shared ID gave a distinct revenue uplift; 3.95% on the eCPM and 1.41% on the sold CPM. On some other IDs, we actually saw a lower eCPM and sold CPM, which was quite surprising. There is no logical explanation for that as it should at least be the same. We have cut down that ID for now, at least.

To summarise, it is worth the effort to have a closer look into alternative IDs. There is revenue uplift to gain, though it is far from obvious that you will get an uplift on whatever ID you activate. It depends on your own conditions due to the market, demand, and other things. But start testing if you haven’t already.

If you want to dig deeper and do something with other publishers, I recommend looking into the Swiss solution, One ID. That is a collaboration between several publishers working with the same ID, and it gives buyers a better solution on all of their sites.

About Håkan Hamrin

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