Digiday+ Research: Alternate identifiers now figure in advertising deals for two thirds of publishers

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This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

The great cookie migration slowed from a stampede to a slower trek this year, but a majority of publishers are now using the alternate identifiers that will help replace third-party cookies in their ad sales deals, according to new Digiday+ research.

For the most part, the identifiers figure in a small percentage of said deals. But publishers appear to have used 2021 to test small numbers of the identifiers and incorporate them into how they do business.

In November, Digiday surveyed several dozen publisher professionals about different aspects of their business, including how their employers were preparing for Google ending support for third-party cookies. Respondents were asked to indicate how involved they were in those preparations, and the responses of 54 people who have, at minimum, direct knowledge of their employer’s plans were grouped together.

Their responses paint a picture of a group that has kicked the tires on a small number of alternate identifiers. Most respondents said their companies had tried out fewer than six since Google announced it was going to end support of third-party cookies.

About half of the survey’s respondents indicated that they have tested between two and five different identifiers; about one in seven said their companies hadn’t tested any, nearly twice the percentage that said they’ve tested more than six.

Anecdotally, the results seem not to be influenced by the kinds of resources publishers have. Digiday asked respondents to indicate their employers’ annual revenues by choosing from a set of five different ranges, from less than $10 million to more than $100 million. While the sample does not contain statistically significant numbers of respondents in any one range, at least 40% of the respondents in each revenue range indicated that they had tested between two and five identifiers.

Those tests appear to have progressed enough for most publishers to incorporate the identifiers into their businesses. Using a slightly smaller sample of respondents who knew how identifiers were involved in their employer’s ad sales, the survey found one out of every six publishers is now using alternate identifiers in more than half of their ad sales deals. Another half said that identifiers figure in less than half of those deals, though in each case, the nature of how those identifiers are involved likely varies significantly, not just publisher to publisher but deal to deal



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