IX Perspectives Product

The Impact of Mozilla Firefox: The Change is Now

Mike O'Sullivan on whiteboard

On Tuesday, September 3rd, Firefox announced the release of Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP), a feature which automatically blocks third-party cookies by default. First revealed one year ago, the decision to enable ETP by default has had a material effect on publishers’ revenue in the past month, particularly in markets where Firefox has a high market share. 

In Germany, Firefox’s browser share is reported to be between 20 – 35% of publisher traffic, depending on the source. Given the high degree of share, the effect of ETP on German publishers has been severe: 

  • 38% Decline in Bid Rate
  • 45% Decline in Revenue
  • 23% Decline in CPM*

* on Firefox-specific traffic

Firefox’s ETP, combined with Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) clearly demonstrates that third-party, cookie-based identifiers are rapidly approaching their end-of-life. Without a method to identify and reach their audiences, media companies are increasingly finding the ability to sustain their business models in varying degrees of crisis. Ad spend funds media, and media plays a vital role in providing an investigative “check” against large companies and publicly accountable governments and leaders.

Admittedly, these results appear grim – but there is a path forward. Publishers and buyers can leave the third-party cookies behind and create real addressability, born from deterministic, people-based first-party data.

User consent is the foundation by which people-based identity is built. First-party data can originate in publisher logins, freewalls, newsletter sign ups – any form where a user authenticates. In exchange for a minute or so of attention, users give explicit consent and receive an engaging online experience. The open web then shifts to a more trusted environment based on user choice. 

As shared during our IX Open event, we are building Publisher Sonar, an extension to the IX Library which unlocks people-based identity on cookie-less environments. Initiated by tools which capture user consent, like a freewall, Publisher Sonar enables hashed people-based identifiers to be passed into the bid stream. Inventory is then addressable with first-party data allowing buyers to reach audiences on the trusted web in real-time. 

Companies that adopt people-based identity without a system for user choice are negligent in their duty to give consumers an option to participate. In addition to Publisher Sonar is our world-class consumer opt-out solution, which we call Project Blackbird. Utilising a federated, opt-out mechanism, Project Blackbird applies the user preference to IX Identity Partners for all future ad delivery. In a world with high performing ad targeting, Project Blackbird provides a straightforward way to control the ads you see, across multiple environments. 

In the absence of a solution, the volume of addressable users will continue to drop as more browsers update their cookie tracking policies. There is an opportunity beyond third-party cookies with publisher-first designs that empower users to engage. It is time to invest in a foundation of user consent to create real addressability in an open and trusted web environment. 

As we continue to progress, stay tuned for announcements around these Identity-first platform solutions and more in the coming months. 

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