Advertising Digital Publishing
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A “sea change for online advertising coming”: Back to the future in a cookie-free, virus-free world

Let’s imagine for a moment we are living in our post-pandemic world; cookies are a thing of the past, the majority of folks are vaccinated, and lockdowns are a thing of the recent past. It’s not science fiction; this is actually going to happen in our near (or near-ish) future. 

What does this new world look like for publishers? According to Josh Cole in AdWeek, there is a “sea change for online advertising coming.”

“Google’s industry-leading browser Chrome will stop supporting third-party cookies by early 2022, significantly altering how digital ads are targeted and tracked,” Cole writes. “Yet, even among knowledgeable digital marketers, there’s considerable confusion about how campaigns will be affected.”

At the same time, we need to accept that the pandemic caused a rash of new and often unexpected consumer behaviors. As Cole notes, Fed chair Jerome Powell believes we are “not going back to the same economy — we’re recovering, but to a different economy.”

Cole believes there is a key question we all need to ask (and answer for our own businesses): “Which new customer behaviors and expectations will stick, and which will recede?”

Take the restaurant industry for example; customers have moved in droves to home delivery. Will that stick? Do dining establishments need to rethink their indoor dining capacity to cater to the take-away and delivery crowd permanently? 

Another pandemic trend that will undoubtedly stick is the surge in e-commerce and related online advertising. This is leading to a rise in e-commerce platforms acting as ad platforms, which are expected to account for 13% of digital ad spending next year. Other trends include brand collaborations, especially celebrity-driven projects and those around social issues. 

For publishers, our cookie-free future means leveraging these trends and digging into first-party customer data for insights into new customer acquisition and current reader revenue. For news publishers in particular, protecting your paywall as cookies go away is critical. 

As we embrace our near future and move into 2021, expect more blurred lines and innovation in the publishing world. Now’s the time to embrace our future with clear eyes and bold ideas.

David Pilcher
VP of Sales & Marketing, Freeport Press