Christer Ljones, Schibsted: “Three steps forward, two steps back”

 “Three steps forward, two steps back”

The digital advertising landscape is undergoing a significant transformation. From the impending cookie deprecation and the industry’s quest for alternative identity solutions, to the industry’s mission to rebuild the advertising ecosystem to benefit all. Innovation is happening in various markets around the world to address these global challenges, including in the Nordics. 

In the latest episode of our Identity Architects podcast, InfoSum's SVP, Marketing & Communications, Ben Cicchetti, sat down with Christer Ljones, Director of Advertising Data Capabilities at Schibsted Marketing Services, to discuss data privacy, the value exchange, retail media, and more.

“The biggest challenge, I think, is actually not necessarily [...] cookie deprecation because this is a phenomenon [...] of the Nordic market is that two-thirds of the market is already iOS. So you kind of already made some of that transition. But I think the challenge is balancing that you operate on a smaller scale while you're competing against global giants.”

With cookie deprecation coming - whether it’s early next year or later - many organizations are looking to alternative identity solutions and other options to create a better advertising ecosystem.

“Unless you have a value proposition, unless you have a brand that the customers are facing, you're not gonna get the scale or robust stability that you need. I just don't see that working at all. It's not an exception because it sort of verifies the rule. I think Utiq is a fairly interesting approach with their mobile identifiers.”

While some are hunting for a ‘cookie replacement,’ there are many other, and much better, options out there. For example, alternatives for media owners to deliver addressability to advertisers at scale include first-party data collaboration, Google's privacy sandbox, contextual, and other options.

“First-party identifiers, first-party cookies, those things in small and mid-size markets, there are already media conglomerates or media companies or sites or brands that can reach its sizeable part of a certain target orient and so that's always going to be part of it. Other than that, we're back to some form of login is going to be required. That can be the traditional ‘give me your email or phone number, and I'll send you a password’ [...]. There are a million ways to think about it, but I think the world of the high-quality content being available without some form of ID, I don't see that.”

That will obviously impact programmatic trading. How will it then exist in the new post-third-party cookie world?

“This isn't all about targeting, all about frequency capping. It's more about pipelines, more about efficient processes. It's more about standardizing data that might be aggregated in some way. So I have absolutely no doubt that many of the companies in that space today and a lot of the things that have been built and will be built will be a critical part of the advertising ecosystem.”

There are some interesting developments in the Nordic market, one of which is data-driven alliances. We’ve seen collectives formed between media owners to collaborate to deliver greater scale, so we wanted to know Schibsted’s take on it.

“We do have one very tight collaboration with a different media company [...]. I know a lot about the challenges with cooperating when you're not in the same company, but it works quite well. They extend our logged-in reach, they extend our reach, they have quality content, and we help them with things they wouldn't have been able to afford as a standalone company. [...] I think the few attempts at collaboration they very quickly ran into [...] issues that it's really hard, you really have to commit over a long time to get it to work. I haven't seen that happen yet, and also, with the enormous changes like back and forth in terms of in particular privacy, it's really hard to make big bets to make those happen.”

A logged-in user base is key for media companies moving forward. What can and should media companies be doing to increase that logged-in user base, given it’s a priority?

“The only way to really get scale is to put good content behind it. Like that doesn't mean you have to put your entire site, but the main reason people log in on the new site is because they get something they otherwise wouldn't. And then the next step to keep people in the habit of being logged in is, of course, personalization.”

It’s important to offer your readers these little features that make their experience online much easier and seamless. Logins definitely help media companies optimize a reader’s experience. 

Correlated directly with the downfall of cookies, retail media has quickly moved from buzzword to trending topic over the last couple of years, taking center stage not just in the UK and the US but around the world.

“As there always is when buzz moves around, definitions get expanded and expanded, so in the end, not everyone is talking about the same thing. [...] The part we see is offsite, right? [...] We think it's going to be significant.”

As every market moves at a different pace, we wanted to know what role retail media plays in the Nordic market and how publishers fit into it. 

“It's a very long process because it's like multi-layer, right? First, you need your consent in some form, then you need your data and legal parts. The tech part, that's not necessarily complicated, but it still takes time, and then you have to figure out what kind of data is actually valuable and will the advertiser, in the end, pay for it, and will they understand it. You have to go through all of these steps, and there's like 3 steps forward 2 steps back. And so it goes, but we do see the interest, and I really think the grocery retailers with their enormous loyalty programs are gonna be a part of a lot of brands' marketing mix.”

Thanks, Christer, for the chat!