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The death of the cookie signals a new golden age for publishers


Google has spoken. The third-party cookie is dead. No more speculation, rumour or dread. Last week it finally announced that it will block third-party cookies in the Chrome browser within the next two years.

The news, while largely expected, has still sent shockwaves across the media and marketing industries. But for publishers, this isn’t time to panic, it’s time to celebrate. With the death of third-party data, publishers will be in prime position as one of the only holders of the first-party data on consumers advertisers are clamouring for.

But there is, of course, work to do first.

Google itself has warned that publishers could lose up to 52% of their revenue without third-party cookies. But providing it starts to innovate around its own data, the publishing industry is actually instead on the verge of what could be a new golden age.

Rather than mourning the demise of the third-party cookie publishers should instead be looking at how the industry can re-architect ad technologies to make first-party data the new currency and to rebuild the digital industry.

Let’s be honest, we all knew the inherent danger of our reliance on third-party cookies. Yes, they played a crucial role in building the digital advertising industry. But we’ve come a long way since then and in today’s privacy-first world they’re really just an embarrassing relic of a time we were happy to ignore the damage being done to consumer trust by trading on their personal data without their consent.

What’s more, the dominance of the third-party cookie meant publishers were pushed to the bottom of the ad-tech ecosystem. Their death means publishers can now once again take their rightful place at the top of the market with their trusted media environments, direct relationships with their audience and most importantly their first-party data.

But the time for action is now.

Google’s two-year timeline may appear generous but ad-tech moves fast and publishers can’t risk getting left behind once again. Publishers need to act to make sure they have the systems, processes, and strategies in place to capitalize on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and flourish in publishing’s new golden age.

Here are our tips for making this shift and rebuilding digital advertising.

Concentrate on your first-party data

There is no doubt that publisher first-party data will become the dominant currency of the digital ad market. Publishers need to use this data to increase their direct relationships with media buyers.

In 2019 the IAB Tech Lab, responsible for the OpenRTB protocol the programmatic industry is built on, began to explore solutions for the demise of third-party cookies. It is essential for publishers to engage with the IAB around this to test and help develop such solutions.

Develop your quality consented data

In two years’ time, publishers will be one of the only places with the data advertisers are desperate for, so you need to increase your efforts to maximise the quantity and quality of the consented data you possess on your audience. Talks with media buyers should centre on the quality and privacy-compliant benefits of this data, compared to third-party data.

Empower your sales team on the USP of your audience data

Third-party data has been your sales team’s world for a long time. You now need to equip them with the knowledge to educate media buyers on the opportunities a world without third-party cookies offers, and the huge benefits of your first-party data to advertisers.

Validate your direct relationships and the benefits for advertisers

The shift from open to private marketplaces has become common practice to drive better quality data and targeting. At the same time, many media buyers remain tied to the open marketplace (OMP). But as Google’s decision to block third-party cookies kicks in, the OMP will be a totally different place. Publishers need visibility of potential revenue streams, bid pricing and buying patterns in order to encourage better pricing for their inventory — or identify and prioritize communication with buyers who might benefit more from a direct partnership.

Emphasise data quality to show in detail what you’re selling

Make sure you’re equipped for questions about how you’ve created your audience datasets. Be as transparent as possible to help buyers understand your offering. Buyers often favour demographic data, seeing it as more objective. Publishers need to encourage trust in interest and intent data by being open about the composition of such segments, assuring buyers of their quality and relevance. A good starting point is the creation of first-party data segments offering scale and composition transparency.

To sum up, Google’s move is exactly the catalyst publishers need to take a good hard look at their technology, tools and very business models to ensure they’re ready to once more take their place at the top of the ad ecosystem. To thrive in the new golden age of publishing where their first-party data becomes its dominant currency.

Amit Kotecha, Marketing Director at Permutive

About: Permutive is the only publisher data platform built on edge computing. It enables publishers to increase their data-driven advertising revenue and make revenue diversification a reality, whilst keeping user privacy at the heart of its technology. Some of its customers include BuzzFeed, Business Insider, The Economist, Condé Nast International, Immediate Media and Burda Forward.

Photo by Ben Kolde on Unsplash