Advertising Guest Columns
4 mins read

Time for publishers to surf the privacy-first wave

In Q3 2024, Chrome will phase out its support for third-party cookies over a two-month period. Now is the time for publishers to test out new technologies – while they still have the ‘safety net’ of third-party targeting in place. InfoSum’s Stuart Colman explains more…

There has been much talk about Google’s decision to delay the phasing out of third-party cookies on Chrome, and what this means for both publishers and advertisers. But perhaps it’s time to reframe the conversation away from the ‘cookiepocalypse’, and instead, focus on the opportunities. The move to a privacy-first ecosystem is a real opportunity for publishers to create much more effective, customer-centric advertising solutions.

The privacy-first era is not on the horizon – it’s already here. This transition has been hastened by big tech, with Apple removing mobile ad IDs from iOS in 2020, having already turned off tracking cookies in its Safari browser earlier that year. Elsewhere, regulators across the globe, aware of growing consumer concerns around data privacy, look likely to increase the pressure on companies who don’t take this seriously.

Publishers are in a great position to capitalize on these changes, rather than be penalized by them, provided they don’t see the extended deadline as an excuse to postpone their preparations for a post-cookie digital ecosystem.

Publishers must be at the heart of the first-party revolution

The entire industry needs to reassess its approach to data-driven advertising. Though third-party cookies provided a method of reaching consumers at scale, their accuracy was always questionable at best. It has been suggested that targeting powered by third-party cookies only delivered 30-40% accuracy. The reason it became so prevalent was because it was an existing and easily available solution.

Third-party cookies have held advertising back; slowing down innovations in targeting, planning, insight, analysis, measurement and more. First-party data, on the other hand, unlocks a whole new world of opportunity. Derived from direct interactions with consumers, first-party data is far more relevant than third-party data, and offers a clearer picture of who customers really are and what they actually want.

Publishers should focus on nurturing and expanding the first-party data they have access to. These authenticated, or ‘known’ audiences provide a greater depth of knowledge about than even the data held by the walled gardens. Therefore, they have the opportunity to build accurate and detailed audience profiles for their advertising partners.

But data privacy must be at the heart of how publishers leverage this first-party data. While collaborations with advertisers bring obvious benefits for both parties, audience data is still at risk if not properly secured. Considered the ‘new oil’, data is one of a company’s most valuable assets, and therefore any practices that risk the commercial value of that data, must be avoided. Additionally, consumers are increasingly aware of just how valuable their data is – as well as the unsettling ways in which it can be used – and they want to make sure it is safe, and not being sold, shared or put at risk in any way.

Secure collaboration is the key to unlocking the value of first-party data

Greater direct collaboration enables publishers to deliver a more relevant advertising experience to their audience, and ensures brands reach the right audience with the right message at the right time. Publishers have direct intelligence about people’s interests and intents, information that is invaluable to advertisers in a cookie-less world. If they can leverage that information – which many already are – they have a more direct and lucrative role to play in the new advertising landscape, and can potentially recapture some of the advertising spend lost to ‘middleware’, or currently held by the walled gardens.

For brands that lack first-party data of their own – for example, large CPG brands who don’t deal directly with consumers – having access to publishers’ first-party data banks gives them a huge opportunity to better understand and reach their target customers. However, in many cases, advertisers will be able to bring their own first-party data to the table as well, enabling customer profiles to be enriched with further levels of detail that will aid efforts to deliver immersive and personalized experiences to audiences.

By harnessing first-party data, publishers can work with their brand and retail partners to provide accurate measurement solutions, creating a better understanding of the effectiveness of campaigns and ROI. Data collaborations with brands also means that the advertising consumers receive is more relevant and therefore enhances the content consumption experience rather than detracts from it.

Consumer data needs to be carefully managed; issues of ownership, access control, anonymization, and commitment to the security of the data must be clear from the very beginning of any partnership. Collaboration technology, such as data clean rooms, will be a key area of investment for publishers and the brands that wish to work with them.   

Publishers should prepare for their new role in the marketing ecosystem

For too long, the opportunities presented by a first-party data-led strategy have been obscured by the convenience of third-party cookies. Once viewed as merely a delivery channel, publishers now have the chance to tip the scales in their favor and become fully integrated into the marketing ecosystem.

Publishers’ first-party data can help advertisers target only the most relevant customers, minimizing wastage and improving efficiency. It’s a valuable asset that publishers can monetise effectively while still ensuring that audience privacy is respected.

Preparation is key, though, and now is the perfect time to test out new technologies – while publishers still have the ‘safety net’ of third-party targeting in place. This will mean that when cookies are finally phased out, publishers have the right solutions and partnerships in place, rather than having to rush around finding last-minute alternatives.

Stuart Colman
SVP of Sales, Europe, InfoSum

InfoSum is the world’s leading data collaboration platform and the only secure data clean room infrastructure, empowering global businesses to safely use their first-party data at scale to deliver better customer experiences. InfoSum is the only solution that enables true multi-party computation and analysis across unlimited data sets to unlock the full potential of customer data without risk of exposure or misuse. InfoSum’s patented Safe Audience Transfer ensures the complete non-movement of data to create the most protected, most connected, and most accessible data collaboration network.