What is Authentication?
Authentication is simply any time a user provides personally identifiable information (PII) to a brand, organization, or publisher. This could be in the form of an email address, phone number, or even a social log-in. Typically, this information is provided as part of a sign-up or registration process for a newsletter or account.
This authenticated personal data can then be translated to encrypted anonymized identifiers, which can be leveraged by the programmatic supply chain across the open internet.
Meaning, publishers can enhance addressability across all browsers, even previously inaccessible inventory like Safari and Firefox and soon-to-be cookie-less browsers such as Chrome.
Most organizations may not achieve high authentication rates immediately, even a 10% authentication rate will lead to better control over your data, better monetization, and CPMs.
Why Develop an Authentication Strategy?
- Between Chrome ending support for third-party cookies and never-ending privacy legislation, the clock is ticking on current cookie-based workflows. Within the next 8 -12 months most brands’ CPMs will drop and retargeting, personalization and end-to-end measurement based on third-party cookies will no longer provide advertisers with the programmatic ad network in scale
- End of 3rd party cookies and Google will not support any 3rd party identifiers.
- Brands and organizations will still need a direct line to their customers, and publishers hold the key to higher CPMs for their programmatic ads on their websites. 1st party authenticated data.
- This foundational change also provides publishers, marketers, and their technology partners with an opportunity to build a new and better digital ecosystem.
- Such a relationship requires a value exchange between the brands and individuals. Where individuals identify themselves with the trusted party (like Adzapier) in exchange for value, which could be quality content, an experience, a service, or a transaction.
- Successful authentication strategies are grounded in trust and can deliver upon the promise of value for consumers, brands, and marketers alike, and enable addressability.
- As the primary trusted connection to engaged audiences, software will play a pivotal role in building deeper relationships with readers by delivering higher quality content and experiences.
- In the next 8 – 14 months brands must develop a data strategy that will survive the demise of the third-party cookies while providing consumers with the transparency, choice, and control they have grown to expect.
- Brands that adopt an authentication strategy will gain a competitive advantage, increase their CPM, and stay relevant and profitable in today’s data-driven economy.
Embracing Consumer Privacy Preferences
Organizations will also have to address and manage consent with a CMP (Consent Management Platform). Consent management will prove essential to a fair online value exchange between consumers and organizations. Beyond achieving compliance with GDPR and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act), it also allows organizations to regain control of their consumer relationships, in a privacy-first way.
Be Transparent and Give Users A Choice
The success of walled gardens, where users log in to access the site, is a case-in-point that if the user derives some utility or benefit, they are happy to provide details as part of value exchange.
Brands and organizations should bear in mind the need to explain how data is used and what the benefits are to the user. An effective Consent Management Platform (CMP) will help organizations ensure they respect user wishes and articulate the purpose of the information being shared.
When users are better informed and trust a brand has their best interests at heart, they are more likely to authenticate.
Creating value exchanges for first-party data that feel valuable to all parties.
You need to pick an authentication strategy that works for your audience. So, what are the methods you must choose from? Here are a few examples of how brands and organizations can demonstrate value to their audience and how they can benefit both sides of the consent spectrum:
Content walls are pop-ups that block access to content until a piece of PII—such as an email address—is provided or a premium subscription is purchased. They are one of the most common tactics employed to support the strategies on the previous pages.
Content walls are favored by news organizations, which typically have the benefit of an existing readership that may have paid for paper copies in the past.
By far the most popular as it both serves as a way of collecting data and a way of monetizing readership. There is a sense of exclusivity for readers, as they get control over the data they are sharing in exchange for higher quality and more valuable content behind the paywall.
The obvious downside to this method is that it creates a barrier for increasing readership and could scare off current readers.
There are lots of methods for softening this downside: providing X number of free articles a month; “paywall down” events that tie into special occasions; paywall discounts for actions like filling in surveys; membership-only paywalls (where readers need an account but do not have to pay).
There are many ways to approach content wall implementation. The right approach depends on your organization’s size and the resources available.
Common content wall implementation styles:
- Not a true wall in the sense that it’s just a pop-up that asks for an email address but can be closed and does not truly gate content. Starting with an interstitial is an effortless way to get started as you dig into what your visitors are willing to pay for premium content.
- An interstitial that triggers halfway through an article can bring your value exchange top-of-mind.
Hard content wall:
- Blocks access to any content until either authentication is provided or a premium subscription is purchased.
- Hard walls that gate all content see the most success when used by established brands who already have an existing audience base.
“Freemium” content wall:
- Allows free access to the bulk of the content but reserves a “subscribe only” section of higher value content, typically in-depth research or content targeted toward a more niche audience.
- A smart way to highlight your premium subscription can be to highlight it at the top of your page.
Metered content wall:
- Offers access to all content for free up to a certain limit, e.g., “Read X articles for free per month.”
- Walls are not limited to just articles, streaming services can also use them, e.g., X free listens per month.
Dynamic content wall:
- Metered approach to content walls based on behavioral data. These typically involve assigning propensities to readers and adapting to their preferences. For example, people who visited the previously ungated sports section ten times last month tend to register if a wall is shown on their fourth or fifth visit.
Another method that combines first-party data collection and monetization is hosting an e-commerce platform. This allows the reader to get direct value from a shopping experience, but it’s important that readers fully understand how their data will be used.
If the publication serves an audience who are likely to want to take part in discussions or interact together, creating a portal for this to happen is a wonderful way to boost engagement and exchange data.
For example, the football audience is full of people who passionately want to dissect and discuss everything from the games to player profiles. They also tend to like fantasy football. By making a forum where engagement can happen, readers will happily share their data.
Experimenting with engagement models
Organizations that have enabled first-party authentications have the option to experiment with different engagement models to determine which one works best for them and appeals most to their audience.
By developing compelling content, organizations can drive engagement that delivers on the promised value exchange with consumers, increasing authentication rates and making their ad inventory much more valuable.
Authentication isn’t only about logins, although this is the most common method; organizations can experiment with user forums on popular pages where sign-in is required to participate.
Brands and organizations should also embrace creativity in the pursuit of obtaining consent. Tap into the user’s interests to offer content that is right for them or consider how sites or promotions could be personalized as an incentive to provide their personal data.
If they are sports fans, they might be open to push notifications that tell them when the next big game is on. While someone interested in fashion might want to know when a designer’s new collection will launch.
Loyalty clubs and programs boost user engagement and are also excellent drivers to further incentivize users to authenticate. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to include discounted premium subscriptions to brands that would appeal to a particular brand’s audience, i.e., a wine club or offers to group attractions.
Alternatively, running prize draws and competitions that are exclusively for readers who are opted in can work well.
Whichever option a brand selects, offering readers engaging content will always be the focus, and demonstrating the value a consumer receives when sharing their identity with the brand will as well. Readers want to easily understand how their data is being used and they also want the opportunity to easily opt-out. In the case of a major news event like the recent pandemic, brands and organizations are removing paywalls on articles about public health and safety. This not only provides the public with information important to their wellbeing but also further cultivates brand trust and loyalty. Long term, this type of engagement helps organizations build trust with their audiences.
They should also provide consumers with options on the content they receive and create a feedback loop to key them in on the value exchange.
From there, more analysis can surface new opportunities. The key takeaway here is that if targeted advertising or experiences are clearly communicated to the user, there is no reason to fear personalization.
At the end of the day, all organizations and brands need to be able to demonstrate that every impression has consented, is addressable, and can be accountable. While this is always true, it is especially so during a recession.
Agencies, brands, publishers, and organizations who work with technology partners (such as Adzapier) to make their authentication strategy as robust as possible and manage their consent preferences, will be the ones that achieve more business continuity in the wake of persisting industry trends and headwinds.
*Any information obtained from the Adzapier website, services, platform, tools, or comments, whether oral or written, does not constitute legal or regulatory advice. If legal assistance is required, users should seek legal advice from an attorney, a lawyer, or a law firm.*