Beeler.Brief: Pieter Mees on Identity Challenges and Options Facing Buyers and Sellers.

beeler.brief doubleverify Feb 02, 2022

 Pieter Mees, VP Video & Publisher Product at DoubleVerify talks of major changes coming in the publisher ecosystem. With Identity becoming more challenging in the industry it leads us to two separate tracks for buyers and sellers to align around.

The first option is that we fix the identity solutions to be more regulatory compliant. In this option we see a lot of people converging on the concept of first party data. 

The second option could be moving away from identity to using a context based 'in the moment' style of behavior tracking. This includes tracking what a consumer is reading, watching, and consuming at the moment. This gives an idea of what they would  currently be in the market for. or what their interests are at this time.

Pieter suggests that both of these options will be battle tested and fully compared in the next few years. He also predicts they may potentially even be combined into a sort of hybrid model. 



There are major changes coming down the track in the publisher ecosystem around how campaigns are executed, how they're being targeted, and how you deliver to the right audiences and achieve campaign performance. That makes good sense for both buyers and sellers. Some of the research we've recently done has shown that there's actually a load of interesting stuff happening in the ecosystem right now.

The first observation is that with the deprecation of cookies and identity in general becoming much more challenging in the industry, with GDPR and a bunch of legislation coming out, there's been ample discussion about this topic, that it leads into two separate tracks for both buyers and sellers to align around. We can take the route of fixing some of the identity solutions to be much more regulatory compliant. And the track that we take there is that we see a lot of people converging on the concept of first party data. First party data are?  datasets in general that tell me something about my audiences, about users, about identity, but in a way that I can control where that data is originating from, that I can know that it's regulatory compliant, and I can use it as my secret sauce, my unique capability in the market to perform better than anyone else out there.



The interesting thing is that both buyers as well as sellers have been building up these first party datasets and are going into the next couple of years thinking that these datasets are going to be their single source of truth and that's what they're going to be using to effectively target campaigns and reach the right audiences. That disconnect is a very interesting situation in the market today, where our research shows publishers believe strongly that they're going to be able to deploy this first party data within these campaigns that are going to be able to convince sellers to adopt it as well and trust this information. That's going to be the new oil in the market that they're going to be able to monetize and increase revenues on.


At the same time, buyers are in a similar position. They are also at risk of losing a lot of targeting control. They've been building their own first party datasets and are convinced that they're going to be able to convince others to take their first party data and execute against that. So while everybody is shouting first party data, an interesting observation from our research is that everybody's talking about a totally different subject. It's really interesting to see how it's going to pan out. We're going to have a really interesting period of time where we're figuring out to what extent sellers are able to convince buyers that they can deliver scalable solutions where I, as a buyer, don't need to interface with 100 different publishers, each with their own different taxonomies of first party data, each with their own ways of obtaining this information with their own quality levels of data. How do I trust as a buyer that all of that data is accurate, is going to perform well, and that it is worth paying a premium for?


Vice versa, when buyers come in the door and say, "no, we're going to work off of my data," to what extent are publishers willing to throw their own stuff to the side and just take whatever the buyer has available and work off of that? Publishers lose the ability to monetize whatever information they have available, because I think there's little argument that having direct exposure to the user is the best possible way to understand who they are and what their interests are.




So that's the first party data track and some ideas on fixing the ? identity solutions that are out there and move away from the cookie into the first party data track. At the same time, we see a complementary story with just moving away from identity in the first place as a way to isolate audiences into using context and the in the moment behavior of the user. For example, what are they reading, watching, or consuming right now tells me something about what they're in the market for or what their interests are at this moment in time. If I target context, can I just drop the concept of identity in the first place and go straight to that very moment that the user is experiencing?


The main benefit is you lose this concept of identity, so it becomes much easier to scale and make regulatory compliant, because you don't even need identity and cookies in the first place. One of the challenges, mapping back to the first party data story, is who is going to define the taxonomy about this? Who is going to determine what an article or a video or a piece of content is about, and then what the taxonomy for that information, that classification system is? And then how to target, how to execute against that taxonomy and really be able to execute campaigns against contextual relevancy.


Again, sellers will argue they have the best view of their content, so they're in the best position to determine this. Buyers will say, "It's not going to be able to scale."  And that's where verification vendors like DoubleVerify can enter and be an independent party to build bridges between the two sides. Where we can come in with a vetted classification system, a long track record in doing the same technology for brand suitability, just applying it in a different way to solve the contextual challenge. Having a normalized taxonomy that both buyers and sellers can agree on and that is compliant with all the industry standards and framework and so forth. And then build that independent Switzerland that both parties can trust and validate and believe that the data has the level of accuracy needed to perform high quality, high performing campaigns.



Throughout this transition period, we're going to see that both of these tracks are going to be battle tested They're going to be compared and they're going to be combined. There's no reason why you wouldn't be able to use both at the same time. And we're going to see over the next couple of years what emerges. My personal belief is we're going to see a hybrid outcome, where first party data is going to be layered with contextual data. Depending on what outcomes you're trying to target and how much first party data you have available about the particular audiences you're trying to reach, it's going to make a determination of which one of those two is going to perform best for you.


 As these two converge and we create this kind of hybrid world where we combine the two together to reach best class solutions, throughout the next couple of years we're going to see an increasing need to be able to compare, to validate, to see the KPIs of how these are performing, and have a joint mutual understanding between buyers and sellers about what those numbers are. Because one of the main challenges is if we're going through these transition periods and buyers and sellers disagree about the KPIs and don't agree on the methodology to measure them and how to quantify them, this whole process will take years longer to resolve than if we can just agree on the baseline stuff. And this is where measurement and verification can come in and become, again, the Switzerland of trusted, accredited, validated metrics that both parties can align on, can agree on, and that have been battle tested for over a decade  now in the market to be used to validate when I'm running A/B tests, when I'm running comparisons, when I'm shifting in the industry like this, how well performance is being impacted and how we're optimizing all the data available to us.


That's the dual role that we see for DoubleVerify in the market today. It is unlocking as much contextual data as we can to improve this targeting story and to help publishers and buyers through the shift that is happening now and over the next couple of years. And at the same time, providing these non-contested baseline accredited datasets that can be referenced by both parties and be trusted as a single source of truth about how these things are performing across all the different core KPIs you care about, from the baseline, "was this even a valid impression?" to, "did I reach engagement metrics, did I reach exposure metrics, and did I reach performance and conversion metrics?" Each different buyer is going to have a different set of objectives to achieve with their campaigns, but they should be able to fall back on an independent verified number that is non-contested by either side of the business.



That's our thinking about this subject, and we'd love to engage more with the community, with publishers, and advertisers out there. We're going to see how they're thinking about these problems and see how that could impact our product planning and roadmapping process. How can we best deliver value to our customers as they are  experiencing this very fluid, flexible moment in the industry right now? 

Questions or concerts please reach out to us at [email protected]

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