Google is once again pushing back its deadline for the end of third-party cookies on Chrome, this time to the second half of 2024. Publishers everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief, but this is no time for procrastination. Cookie deprecation is coming, and it will have a dramatic impact on the way publishers do business.
But without a firm date on the horizon, it can be difficult to focus on preparing for life after third-party cookies. Publishers have countless priorities competing for their limited time and resources, and the task of implementing alternative data solutions to replace third-party cookies can seem overwhelming.
Some are taking a wait-and-see approach, while others suffer from “analysis paralysis” because the fear of making a bad decision — or missing out on the “best” solution — is keeping them from moving forward at all.
However, doing nothing is literally the worst thing you can do right now. Instead, view Google’s extended timeline as an opportunity for action. There are a number of deliberate steps you can take to strengthen your ad strategy today and position your business for success in a cookieless future.
Here are five ideas to get you started:
1. Diversify your revenue
With the eventual loss of third-party cookies, experts predict that ad revenues could drop by $10 billion across the industry. So if your monetization strategy relies heavily on advertising — like most publishers — it’s time to investigate new ways of making money.
The good news is, you have endless options for expanding your revenue mix. Affiliate marketing is one obvious area to explore, including tactics like curated shopping, price comparisons, product reviews, and other types of commerce content. While it’s difficult to predict which techniques will be successful at any given time, diversifying your revenue streams will help to smooth out the inevitable ebbs and flows across the industry.
2. Use data and insights to optimize ad performance
Regardless of uncertainty in the ad ecosystem, you should be squeezing every bit of revenue out of your ad inventory. Effective optimization of your ad strategy requires access to the right data, along with the ability to evaluate ad quality, monitor trends, and recognize potential problems.
3. Start testing now
It’s important to remember that traffic on Safari and Firefox — more than 40% of all online traffic — is already free of third-party cookies. That makes these browsers an ideal environment to experiment before the ad ecosystem goes entirely cookie-free.
Take this time to assess your cookieless traffic and set up tests to see what kind of results you can achieve without cookie data. Consider an investment in addressability within these environments to help drive higher CPMs. Engage with advertisers to demonstrate how they can effectively reach their target audience without third-party data. The work you do now can not only increase the current value of your inventory, but also set you up for success when cookies eventually go away.
4. Bolster your ad operations
If 2024 were here today, would you have the right team in place? Digital advertising is a complex business, and getting the right support for ad operations can help to ensure you’re earning as much as possible on your ad inventory. Even if you’re already outsourcing your ad ops, it’s good business practice to re-evaluate your ad ops partner from time to time.
5. Conduct a thorough assessment of your ad stack
While you’re reviewing vendors, this is a great time to evaluate your ad stack from top to bottom, including your DSP, SSP, DMP, analytics, optimization, and retargeting tools (and so much more). The ad ecosystem is incredibly diverse, with a wide array of tools and solutions to build a successful ad strategy. Having the right ad tech in place — and the right partners — can help to ensure your ad program is ready for whatever the future brings.
Bonus tip: Leverage audience attention to drive ad higher revenue
Today’s ad ecosystem depends on cookie data for tracking user behavior, authenticating identity, and setting ad rates — but it doesn’t have to be that way. By tapping into audience engagement signals, publishers have a unique opportunity to identify, target, and sell highly desirable audience segments hosted on their own sites — and regain control of inventory pricing.