Disqus, like many of our publishers, partners with Google to monetize ad inventory. The recent announcements and blog posts from Google (and others) can often be hard to interpret.
Advertising funds the continued operations of most of the modern web. One of the most important things you can do is ensure you are working with vendors that are partnering to provide you continued access to a competitive marketplace of suppliers. We wanted to share our early thoughts and some helpful advice.
Nearly all publishers rely on outside vendors to operate their website. For example, Disqus helps publishers engage and curate communities with their audiences. We also combine information across our accounts to rout out trolls more rapidly. Our functionality helps these publishers develop more meaningful relationships with their visitors. It is often far easier and more efficient to outsource capabilities to a competitive marketplace than to try to reinvent these same functionalities in-house. This concept underpins all economic theory since Adam Smith’s pioneering work on the efficiencies that derive from the division of labor, the learning curve and open market competition.
First on the list is to understand what is actually changing. Google, as expected, announced earlier this month that they will stop supporting “alternate identifiers” after they end support for 3rd party cookies. They announced their Ads products will support privacy sandbox solutions and pass through any alternate identifiers, but will not use them to help marketers control, measure or optimize across various websites.
Given Google’s statements, publishers should adjust accordingly and focus on figuring out ways to maximize their monetization. By providing marketers improved measurement of the value from their media spend, publishers can earn higher revenues. Complimentary solutions, largely categorized as Universal ID’s (UID), can aid with this important feedback mechanism.
There are dozens of identifier providers, but two good options gaining scale when using authenticated data are LiveRamp’s ATS and User ID 2.0 now being operated by Prebid. To help brands measure effectiveness when they do not require email authentication to access their web properties, alternate identifiers rely on logged out cross-publisher identifiers. PRAM is supporting the industry initiatives backed by leading brands, such as AT&T, Disney, Ford and P&G to ensure these alternate identifiers have appropriate accountability programs to govern their use, while supporting these marketers’ needs for cross-publisher addressable marketing.
The Privacy Sandbox contains many overlapping concepts, but the fundamental design goal is to ensure you cannot understand which ads appear on your website (see Turtledove and Fledge). The Privacy Sandbox also wants to take control of the auction process that determines which ads will win which auctions.
Another frequently mentioned Privacy Sandbox proposal replaces your existing understanding of the audiences that frequent your web property with generic “cohorts.” These cohorts group similar browsers together into what Google calls a “FLoC,” where each browser belongs to only a single audience segment at a time. Google recently stated that the widely publicized “95%” effectiveness was not an accurate understanding of what they published, given their FLoC analysis still relied on real-time feedback, user identifiers and granular frequency capping, that they are not supporting via Privacy Sandbox.
We will continue to keep you updated as more information becomes public. You should understand the limitations of FLOCs as it pertains to browsers. Start adding one or more UID solutions, like SWAN or UID 2.0.
Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media
What you can do
Finally, it is important to speak up. Write to your elected officials or join one of the trade bodies that are fighting to protect your rights to choose who you work with. Two of these organizations we recommend you learn more about and/or join are:
European Publishers Council
Marketers for an Open Web