Over the years, Mozilla Firefox has revolutionized internet browsing in a big way. A new feature has been released in Firefox recently called Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP). The third-party cookies are automatically blocked by this feature by default. The decision to enable ETP by default was revealed a year before its release. ETP had an immediate effect on the revenue of publishers. 

This was noticed particularly in the markets where Mozilla Firefox had a high market share. At the time, Firefox’s browser share in Germany was reported to be 20 to 35% of the publisher traffic. This, of course, depended on the source. There was a 38% decline in bid rate and a 45% decline in revenue. A 23% decline in CPM was also reported for traffic that was Firefox-specific.

The problem with third-party cookies

The ETP released by Firefox and the Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) of Safari tell us something. They have clearly demonstrated that the cookie-based, third-party identifiers are nearing their end. Media companies are struggling to sustain their business models. This has happened owing to the failure to identify and reach their audiences. 

Media plays an important role in keeping a check on large corporations, governments, and political leaders. To prevent further damages, the publishers and buyers may have to leave the third-party cookies behind. They must create real addressability with the help of people-based and deterministic first-party data.

The importance of user consent

People-based identity is built on the foundations of user content. The origin of first-party data can be found in publisher logins, newsletter sign-ups, and firewalls. So, first-party data can originate in any form where the authentication is given by a user. The users provide explicit consent for their time spent online. In return, they receive an engaging online experience. 

There are certain tools that unlock people-based identity on environments free from cookies. A talk about one such tool was heard at an open event. This tool named ‘Publisher Sonar’ was in its development stages at the time. It was presented as an extension to the IX Library and was initiated by elements that captured user content. 

Publisher Sonar reportedly enabled hashed people-based identifiers that were to be moved into the bid stream. Inventory was then addressable with buyers being allowed to reach audiences through first-party data.

More power to users

Organizations adopting people-based identity in the absence of a system for user choice are at fault. They are clearly negligent in their duty to provide users with an option for participation. The company building Publisher Sonar has additionally come up with a world-class user opt-out solution. 

This has been named ‘Project Blackbird’. It applies the user preference for all future ad delivery by utilizing a federated opt-out mechanism. Project Blackbird presents a pretty straightforward way of controlling the ads that the user sees across environments.

Owing to the lack of a solution, the number of addressable users would continue to fall. This is especially true when more browsers are updating their policies with regard to cookie tracking. There certainly exists an opportunity with designs that put the publishers first and empowers users to engage. 

This opportunity is beyond third-party cookies. The time has come to invest in a foundation based on user consent. This would create true addressability in an open and trusted browsing environment. As Firefox continues to evolve, users can expect more identity-first platform solutions in the days to come.

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