LiveRamp’s alternative to third-party cookies

The race to replace third-party cookies with alternative identifiers is accelerating, with initiatives coming from individual vendors and from industry groups. With publishers and advertisers confronted by competing identity sources, Tapad announced Switchboard, a module to establish interoperability between these novel IDs.

LiveRamp is one of the biggest players in the data-driven CX space, and yes, they have an identity solution. We wondered why they hadn’t — as yet, anyway — become a Switchboard partner.

Why LiveRamp isn’t part of Switchboard

“We absolutely support interoperability, and we are already interoperable with The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0. We’re interoperable with Neustar Fabrick; we announced that partnership in early December last year,” said Travis Clinger, SVP, Addressability and Eco-system at LiveRamp. We’re looking at some of the other IDs — we may have some privacy concerns with some — but any ID which meets our privacy standards, we’re committed to being interoperable.”

LiveRamp doesn’t reject the possibility of participating in Switchboard in the future. “Right now we make these connections internally and make them available to our customers.”

Read about Tapad’s approach to interoperability.

LiveRamp’s ATS

LiveRamp’s own alternative identified is known as Authenticated Traffic Solution, or ATS. LiveRamp’s mission is to connect marketer data with publisher inventory across all channels, allowing marketers to use first-, second-, and third-party data to personalize customer journeys across that inventory and measure the success of campaigns.

“We’ve been investing substantially over the past four years in our authenticated traffic solution, ATS, which enables publishers to connect their first-party identities (a user log in on the New York Times, for example, or the Washington Post) to our people-based platform,” said Clinger. “As we see the end of the third-party cookie looming, and the changes to the IDFA happening this spring, we expect to continue to scale ATS. Already we have about one in five people logging in on the ATS network, and we expect to continue scaling that over the coming months, allowing marketers to continue to connect with their consumers across any channel without the need for a third-party cookie.”

Anonymous traffic, consisting of users who don’t log in to websites, eludes the grasp of ATS. “Exactly,” Clinger agreed, “but a log in can be a variety of events. For example, it could be clicking a newsletter link, signing up for text alerts, or using a widget on the site to engage in comments or discussion.” The idea is to have consumers enter into a value exchange with the publisher, receiving content in return for elements of their identity.

The contextual alternative

There are many contrasting viewpoints about the effectiveness of contextual advertising, the long-established practice of assuming that audiences for certain types of content will be interested in certain types of products or services. Think beer commercials during NFL games, or just “soap operas.” With addressability now in question, it was inevitable that contextual advertising would get another close look.

“Contextual advertising has always worked,” Clinger said, “but marketers demand better now. We see this in Safari and Firefox: if you don’t have addressability on a piece of inventory, the CPM plummets. Google’s own study says CPM [on Chrome] will plummet 60%. In conversations We’ve had with SSPs, we’ve heard greater than 90%. Marketers want addressability, they don’t want contextual.”

Read about Google’s FLoC alternative to third-party cookies.

Contextual meets addressable

But contextual advertising combined with addressability? That’s another matter. Last week, LiveRamp announced a partnership with the international contextual advertising business, allowing marketers to leverage contextual and addressable together, rather than in separate siloes.

Contextual is not, in itself, the future of the eco-system, Clinger emphasized. “But we’ve always believed there’s an opportunity to pair contextual with addressability. What we’re doing with the partnership is, marketers can bring their first-, second- or third-party audiences into, pair it with contextual information on the site, and execute more intelligent deals across publishers.” It also opens up another way for publishers to make their inventory attractive to marketers.

It’s easiest to understand with an example. Say a food retailer has an audience drawn from its loyalty program, with a propensity to show interest in, for example, broccoli. can identify publishers with content featuring broccoli recipes. “We know that you are a rewards member with this brand, so that broccoli recipe is inviting you to come to the retailer and buy broccoli at a discount.” Many publishers in’s extensive portfolio are already ATS partners.

Another way, then, of closing the gap in consumer reach as more and more of the U.S. population drifts out of the reach of third-party cookies. It won’t be the last.

This story first appeared on MarTech Today.

About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech Today. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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