Key Considerations For Selecting a First or Third Party Ad Server

Volume 5, Issue 1 - January, 2015

Juli LeDoux, Senior Account Manager, Visual IQ

Today, more and more advertisers are relying on advanced attribution models to optimize marketing spend and grow their business. These models are powered by marketing performance data collected from various sources, including ad servers that deliver digital advertising content and collect information about the media engagement of each user. Third-party ad serving has long been the norm for delivering this content, but as marketers look for additional ways to deepen their understanding of consumers, first-party ad serving is getting plenty of attention.

While there are many factors in choosing an ad server, here are two key aspects to consider during the selection process:

  1. Cookie Deletion:
    First party ad serving enables brands to use their own domain (i.e., 1st party) to deliver media impressions and collect audience engagement data. Since many anti-virus and software cleansing programs scour computers and actively erase traces of third party tracker domains, there is potentially a better chance for cookies placed by first party domains – particularly from brands known to the consumer – to stay alive longer. This in turn may help build better customer insight, since deeper engagement paths can potentially be constructed over a greater length of time. With more insight into the consumer journey and a better understanding of which media stimulations and channel mixes drive the most conversions, advertisers can develop more accurate and effective media plans.

  2. Privacy Policy and Opt-Out Selection:
    When it comes to browsing the Web, consumers want all the benefits that tracking offers in terms of improved navigational experience, yet are also increasingly concerned with privacy. They place value on both data security, as well as advertising that is relevant to them. In this context, there is an increased likelihood of consumers being hesitant to divulge information about themselves and therefore, opt out of third party tracking, as compared to first party tracking from a brand they know and trust.

    However, not everything works in favor of first party ad serving. Given the hazards of malicious software and concerns around data sanctity, several leading publishers like Amazon allow ad serving and tracking through only known, previously certified third party ad servers. Thus, if a marketer’s study indicates that their target audience is heavily influenced by content found on Amazon’s website, serving ads to them using a third party ad server certified by Amazon is more advantageous than working with a first party ad server.

Before making a decision, marketers should carefully study the online behavior of their target audience and hedge bets on the ad server that maximizes their ability to reach and engage their customers in different ways.

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