CafeMedia Teams With ID5 to Help Solve the ‘Chicken-and-Egg Problem’ of Identity

The industry is looking for solutions to its third-party cookie problem

CafeMedia ranks 11th in Comscore's Top 50 multiplatform properties. - Credit by ID5, cafemedia, Pixabay
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Let the post-third-party cookie testing begin.

CafeMedia will start using ID5’s digital advertising identity product as the industry searches for a new way to monetize the open web following Google’s decision to rid its market-leading Chrome browser of third-party cookies by 2022.

Paul Bannister, chief strategy officer of CafeMedia, said there’s a “chicken-and-egg problem” to the identity crisis given the large number of identity vendors and the persistent dependence on third-party cookies. If publishers don’t adopt an ID product, then buyers activating against that ID see no supply. And if there are no buyers in market, then publishers have no incentive to adopt any new products.

“We know there’s this chicken-and-egg problem, and we’d like to be part of the solution of fixing that. We want to be thoughtful about which ID partners we work with, but we also want to help them build scale, so when an advertiser does come online they can see, ‘Oh wow, I’m actually getting some wins,’” Bannister said.

Instead of relying on the third-party cookie, ID5’s Universal ID product is stored in a first-party cookie on a publisher’s website.

Joanna Burton, chief strategy officer at ID5, said Universal ID isn’t reliant on authenticated user information, like an email address. Instead, it uses an algorithm that can tell when someone visits a site. While that may make matching more difficult, it does help safeguard against privacy regulations, Burton said.

“It’s probabilistic, but it also means it’s got a much bigger chance of scaling than if we were just relying on authenticated data. We can add the authenticated data to our algorithm, and that trains the algorithm, but we don’t rely on it,” she said.

Not relying on login details to build an ID product could help publishers navigate the costly proposition of building out their first-party data strategies. As third-party cookies go away, publisher data becomes more valuable, but not every website can justify asking visitors for their personal information the way The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal can.

Bannister called this first-party data dilemma “the million-dollar question” for publishers: “How do we as publishers build more tools and features and capabilities that users want to use and want to provide their email to get access to?”

CafeMedia’s pact with ID5 also addresses near-term needs. While the market searches for alternatives to the third-party cookie, those web trackers will remain the backbone of digital advertising.

“There’s still a market for third-party cookies until the deprecation that Chrome announced … comes into effect,” Burton said.

Bannister said that CafeMedia is seeing some early positive monetization using the Universal ID, but the overall number of transactions against a post-third-party cookie solution is “still pretty small.”

CafeMedia is the 11th-most visited digital property in the U.S., according to Comscore. It’s a monetization platform that serves over 2,500 websites.


Andrew Blustein is a programmatic reporter at Adweek.