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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Navigating the new identity era: Why preparation is key

February 3, 2022 | By Jessica Werner, Senior Director, Publisher Development – ID5 @ID5_io

If history has taught us anything, it’s that there are always lessons to be learned and mindsets to be shifted. If you’ve been in the digital advertising industry for any length of time, you’ll likely know there’s no shortage of lessons to go around.

The world of advertising has rapidly evolved over the years keeping publishers, advertisers, and adtech partners alike on their toes every step of the way. The latest evolution is that of user targeting and how we can continue to properly identify and address who our audience is in real and meaningful ways.

Identity in perspective

This brings us to the era of privacy and transparency, where identity was ultimately born. Although they emerged circa 2017, identity platforms are still somewhat of a foreign concept when it comes to overall strategy. Conveniently enough, there have been a number of postponed deadlines making it easier to rationalize resisting the adoption of said identity solutions. However, that mindset is worth debating. While we’ve been given a bit of a reprieve, it’s time to get started.

An important moment in history we can all gain perspective from is when Facebook changed its algorithm to prioritize content from family and friends while shying away from news publishers and brands. The problem with that sudden change was that publishers weren’t properly warned and consequently, weren’t able to properly prepare. Those that had all their eggs in one basket (who relied primarily on Facebook as their main or only traffic acquisition source) were quick to feel the impact of change. Within a month’s time, there were a number of publishers closing their doors or handing the keys over to a new buyer.

This story isn’t meant to instill fear, but rather share the importance of taking advantage of this privileged time to find where best to move your eggs. Just as you would with any other programmatic advertising strategy, that of identity needs proper time to ramp up allowing for testing and adjustments where needed.

Time to start

For publishers, this means finding the right identity solutions to begin testing with to secure what your favored identity stack looks like. In other words, think about who you’ll be working with and how you’ll be working with them. It also means giving buyers time to adapt and adjust. Just as buyers’ algorithms need time to adjust to changes in ad layouts, ad placements, ad stacks, and new users, buyers need up to eight months to adapt to new identity solutions as we transition into a post-cookie world.

Securing an identity platform alone isn’t enough. There needs to be a clear plan of action in place from initial integration to ongoing optimizations. You will need to ensure you have coverage for both authenticated as well as unauthenticated traffic. You’ll want to confirm that the partners you currently have running in your ad stack are compatible with the identity provider you’re working with so there’s no missed connections. And you should evaluate and re-evaluate what sort of audience segmenting you have in place and what it is that makes your users valuable. This is why you must do your due diligence and look into what each provider has to offer ahead of time.

Remember that this is very much so a team effort as we collectively migrate into the new world of identity, with publishers leading the charge. The sooner publishers fully roll out and adopt identity as the new currency, the sooner buyers can finesse their bidding logic. Each player has their own unique responsibility when it comes to fully scaling out efforts and getting this right, with the power falling into the publisher’s hands.

Yes, we’ve gotten the luxury of notice, and a bit more time. But don’t waste it. Preparation is critical and collaboration is necessary. If you’re not sure where to start, begin by taking stock of your current dependencies, evaluate the market, and identify a handful of providers to start integrating with. Once in motion, the rest is history!

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