The industry press is awash with stories talking about the demise of the third party identifier as we all wait for Google to administer the death knell for third party cookies in Chrome. This represents a monumental shift in the way the ad-tech ecosystem thinks about and manages user recognition for two purposes - targeting and measurement. It’s important however to distinguish between two third party definitions before we start to look at the impact on Facebook and 1st party environments:
- Third party identifiers - these are generally platform or tech specific identifiers (cookies) that enable data to be passed from entity to entity via sync’ing
- Third party data - this is data that is collected by someone else other than yourself
Why is this distinction important? Well, the upcoming demise of third party identifiers doesn’t mean the end of third party data. The universe of third party data providers has expanded enormously over the last decade - in fact it is now a $20bn a year industry, growing in line with client demands and ever more intelligent use cases . Today we see companies creating high quality audiences based on location, behavior (web/mobile), offline data and more. This data is aggregated and then delivered to an end destination for activation. Those activation destinations include large mobile, display and video environments (think Trade Desk, MediaMath etc) but also, of course, social environments like Facebook, Twitter. The important thing to be aware of is the nature of the integration because that is what is likely to impact usability. Platforms built using third party identifiers will typically ingest data tied to their own ID. In its simplest form this would look like:
Audience Segment A - Cookie ID 1234 - Cookie ID 5678
When the Chrome impact is felt it is these connections that will need be more likely to break since in this example Cookie ID 5678 may no longer exist! And that's where the major Platforms already have a solution. That’s because the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Google are built on first party data which relues on their own universe of logged in users. So in the above example Audience Segment A will invariably be linked somewhere to an email, phone number or even offline name and address (permissions permitting). Therefore a first party integration is far more persistent. And entirely protected from any integration issue pertaining to the deprecation of third party cookies.
Our prediction is therefore that more and more third party data signals will be mapped to first party identifiers - which in turn can be permissioned within walled gardens and any Platform built to manage first party data in a privacy safe way. That said anyone relying on third party data signals within first party environments should be aware that some data may either no longer be available or the size of the audience might decrease. An example might be a ‘sports enthusiast’ audience that is created based on visitors to a specific sports domain. Today that audience will be created by being mapped to a third party identifier. In the future it's likely that there will be an option to map this to more of a first party ID.