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First party IDs are helping digital marketing move forward into a cookieless future.

The use of third party cookies has previously allowed advertisers to provide targeted adverts to users based on their browsing behaviours. However, in recent years each of the main browsers – Microsoft’s Edge, Mozilla’s Firefox, Apple’s Safari – have removed third party cookies

Mozilla’s Firefox had it set as automatic from 2013, Microsoft announced changes to its Internet Explorer around the same time, for Do-Not-Track settings and updated Edge in 2020 to allow users to block both first and third party cookies in the settings. Apple updated Safari last year to do the same.

Originally Google was planning to follow in 2022 but announced in June 2021 that its removal of third party cookies from its Chrome browser had been pushed back to 2024. Marketing teams shouldn’t see this as an excuse to not look for first party IDs solutions however.

Once third party cookies are blocked on a large-scale, it will mean marketers and advertisers will need to rethink their approach to effective, targeted, digital advertising. One big shift we’ve seen so far is towards contextual advertising and audience data.

New study shows first party IDs can outperform third party cookies

PwC worked with OMD Norway and Renault to develop and run a real-world campaign using marketing platform Adform’s ID Fusion technology.

By using first-party IDs and ID Fusion, the test campaign was able to reach incremental users who could not be engaged using previous targeting methods, on non-cookie environments such as Safari and Firefox, as well as a growing number of Chrome users.

Working with an A/B test for performance campaign, the Click-through-Rate (CTR) improved by 161% from 0.18% to 0.47% while the Cost-per-Click (CPC) reduced by 65% (down from €1.78 to €1.08). 

First party IDs also worked more efficiently when optimising towards frequency goals and the combination of both saw the frequency management (effective capping of impressions per user) drop 29% from 4.8 impressions per user – the target was 2).

For the branding part of the A/B test, the number of addressable users increased by 669% (22,847 unique impressions v 175,662 unique impressions).

According to Jakob Bak, a co-founder of Adform: “The PwC study brings reassuring proof for marketers that they have nothing to fear from the so-called ‘death of the cookie’

“By using first-party IDs and ID Fusion, the test campaign was able to reach incremental users who could not be engaged using previous targeting methods, on non-cookie environments such as Safari and Firefox, as well as a growing number of Chrome users,” he added.

Lotte Gundersen, Digital Marketing Manager, Renault Norway, said: “As an advertiser, it is reassuring to know that addressable marketing in cookieless environments will be a tool that we can rely on in the future. We look forward to continuing to reach our customers and optimize our advertising efforts in a manner better aligned with the modern consumers’ expectations around privacy.”

How can you create your own first party IDs?

With many publishers adopting first party IDs as an alternative to third party cookies, what can you do to create your own first party IDs?

However you choose to create your database, these five factors are essential: 

  1. Control & autonomy;
  2. Ethics & responsibility;
  3. Transparency;
  4. Security & reliability;
  5. Usability.

Considering these factors in your customer relationships also means respecting privacy laws. You can only store personal identifiable information if you have a legitimate reason and – in countries governed by the GDPR – consent to do so.

Brands should structure their first-party data approach to be continuous—collecting and evaluating new data on a regular basis to ensure that data is as fresh and accurate as possible. 

Three main IDs emerging

There are three popular identifiers that are emerging as the foundation of most internal data strategies: hashed emails, MAIDs and IP addresses. 

According to a study from MediaWallah, to achieve scale and accuracy as third party cookie use declines, companies will likely continue to use all three identifiers in the near future. 

However, each ID comes with unique challenges which should guide future identity strategies.

Hashed Email IDs

For years, the primary key for someone’s profile has been their email address. In CRM and CDP systems, email addresses are something digital marketers have been treating like a precious object for years.

However, with an ID-based marketing and advertising strategy, the same thing doesn’t automatically apply. HEMs are high-value, but are often handled poorly causing mismatches

and missed opportunities

In some instances an email may be shared by a couple or a family, not everyone who visits a website leaves their email address via a contact form, and most often, any email list being used for marketing consists of already obtained customers rather than potential new clients.

MediaWallah’s research found that about 6% of hashed emails are mismatches when comparing datasets across the different hashing protocols. Mismatches can happen when hashing isn’t executed cleanly or if data providers or publishers aren’t careful about their technical procedures.

Mobile Ad IDs

These started out as reliable but the study has found that the longevity of a MAID is getting shorter. The median lifespan of a MAID has decreased from about 1.5 years to only half a year.

One of the reasons for this could be a higher turnover of phones, an average contract lasting around two years, or from prompts to clear IDs from device makers, apps and browsers.

Like 3rd party cookies, this identifier is “going away” in some platforms (iOS) and limitations which mean they operate in the app environment for activation makes this option less attractive than other potential first party IDs.

IP Addresses

IP addresses can help connect the dots between the individual and the household but with around 18% of IPs not being tied to a home, it’s important to differentiate for ad messaging and targeting.

In addition, about 25% of IP addresses change location in a two year span and many people use VPNs (virtual private networks) to disguise their location or browsing behaviour on the internet. While it’s difficult to get accurate figures, it’s estimated about 1.2 billion people are using a VPN in the current year.

For individual-level targeting, relying on IP IDs is more likely to  be a system of probabilities rather than determined identification as it’s difficult to tie directly to a specific person.

Conclusion

Brands should create an overall strategy which takes advantage of all potential first party IDs available. 

Structure any first party data approach to  be a continual one, collecting and evaluating new data on a regular basis to make sure it is as accurate as possible.

Brands will also want to consider teaming up with partners who are experts at resolving disparate data sets to ensure their accuracy.

Beacon is trusted Martech

With multi award-winning* click fraud detection and mitigation across search and social, Beacon feeds other parts of the Martech stack with better quality data, to enable improved analytics, decision-making and results.

At Beacon we’ve been champions of transparent marketing data since our foundation. Get started with Beacon by calculating how much you might be losing on your paid media campaigns to click fraud with our click fraud calculator.

https://www.thisisbeacon.com/calculator

*Best Martech Innovation at Prolific North Tech Awards, B2B Marketing Expo Innovation Award for Best Marketing Tool and the Tech Nation Rising Stars 3.0 Cyber Award, as well as holding Verified by TAG status.