Mar 30 2021
Shawn Riegsecker

Embracing the Identity Crisis: A Note From Basis Technologies' CEO


To my industry friends, colleagues, and competitors,

This is not the end. It’s not doomsday. I believe this is an opportunity. We are an industry filled with innovators, optimists, and consumer-centric problem-solvers. Advertising was around long before the cookie and it will be here long after.

There’s no need to panic. Instead, let’s focus on the two sides of the equation, our industry’s main stakeholders: marketers and consumers.

For marketers and advertisers, the deprecation of third-party cookies brings questions, mostly surrounding targeting and performance. How will I reach my target? How will I know my media is working and measure conversions? I address these questions below, and our Embracing the Identity Crisis guide goes even further in depth into your options.

Consumers, on the other hand, are sending a message—they are telling us that privacy matters and they need to be in control. Many solutions being proposed and developed by organizations in the advertising industry are not respecting this—these solutions are just exploiting loopholes and replacing one problem with another. We need to honor the spirit of privacy and find a real solution.

It’s important to note that this challenge is not unique to Basis Technologies. We are a proud active participant in groups working toward a solution, specifically Project Rearc, the IAB’s working group addressing privacy changes (check out our blog post with IAB Tech Lab lead Alex Cone for more!)

I understand that the impending changes to cookies will probably arrive before a true identity solution can be built.

So, what now? What can we do in the near term? We have options for reliable targeting and alternative reporting options:

First-Party Data

With improved efforts by brands and publishers to collect customer first-party data in order to create more customized user experiences, the question becomes how can each use that data to make smarter decisions outside the walls of their owned and operated properties. As a partner to both marketers and publishers, Basis Technologies is actively working on solutions that allow for anonymized overlap analysis between both parties. This will provide greater direction and more insight around composition and coverage based on the audience cohort actively being planned against.

Leverage Machine Learning

Best in breed solutions will leverage machine learning technology that uses artificial intelligence and privacy-approved data across 30 parameters to decide if and how much to bid on an impression. This tactic can improve media performance all without the use of cookies or infringing on the target’s privacy.

Incorporate Semantic Targeting

Targeting has become synonymous with audiences over the years of programmatic buying, and much of the audience-buying world is cookie-based and deprecating. This doesn’t mean your targeting needs to suffer—you have many other compliant targeting options. Contextual targeting has come a long way over the last decade and now uses Natural Language Processing to understand semantics and tone. We've chosen to partner with semantic data providers such as comScore, DoubleVerify, Grapeshot, and Peer39. And guess what? Semantic data is more affordable than third-party audience data.

Anonymized Data Sources

Expanding ingestion of anonymized data sources for improved fidelity of local data in aggregate is key to continuing to drive smarter decisioning in a post-cookie world. Utilizing sources of data such as US Census, American Community Survey and North American Industry Classification System provide a robustness to local insights, and allow for smarter decisioning (both machine learning and manual) to improve performance and eliminate wasted impressions.

Performance Tracking

Individually and as an industry, we are working on revamping our solution for performance tracking, particularly for actions taken on advertisers’ websites. In the short term, we will be updating conversion tracking to use cookieless conversions for click-through-conversions only. However, in the long term, the only reliable way will be through CDP (customer data platform) data, site analytics data, and brand lift studies. This is a shift from conversion tracking but can more fully and thoughtfully illustrate media performance.

And for that long-term vision mentioned earlier, this is an opportunity—an opportunity to address the real problem, an opportunity to tell stories, an opportunity to be better as an industry. Some companies are trying to find loopholes and circumvent the legislation.

Even if they find success, it will be short-lived. They are ignoring what consumers are saying. These players need to address the problem and create solutions that are good for our ecosystem and respect the rising concern for data privacy

With optimism and excitement,

Shawn Riegsecker
Founder & CEO | Basis Technologies

Want to learn more about how you can prepare for the cookieless future?

Download our comprehensive guide: Beyond Third-Party Cookies: Your Guide to Privacy-Friendly Advertising

Watch our webinar: Identity Crisis: Embracing the Future of Privacy (Featuring the IAB Tech Lab's Alex Cone and Basis Technologies Founder & CEO Shawn Riegsecker)