The third-party advertising cookie has been under attack for some time now. Laws like the GDPR and CCPA led the attack from one side. Privacy initiatives by various browsers complimented the efforts from the other. Now with Google's chrome joining in, it is time to reassess the impact of this change. Much has been written about how this move from Google will impact AdTech companies. But not too much thought has been given to how it will impact digital publishers. This piece looks at this developing story from the publishers point of view.
Caveat - There is still two years to go for Google to pull the plug, and a lot of things can change in those two years
The biggest use of third party cookies is in programmatic advertising. Simply put, they are used by AdTech platforms for retargeting ads to the same person across the multiple web properties they visit. The demise of the third party cookie will lead to quite a scramble for technology options and workarounds. Like I mentioned, there are two years for that, but that is a different story.
Publishers, particularly of the B2C kind get significant revenues from programmatic advertising. If programmatic is under threat, then this can be both a threat and an opportunity for publishers. As advertisers look for other options to reach their target audiences, they may have to temporarily at least look beyond programmatic and focus on site specific advertising. This can in turn give publishers more leverage than they currently have at advertising negotiations.
In the short run, there could be a diversion of programmatic budgets to other advertising forms, particularly to custom content, which would be a welcome move for publishers, particularly smaller ones and B2B publishers. Otherwise, the effects on B2B should be limited, as programmatic does not have a big play there.
It also opens up the opportunity for publishers, particularly those with multiple publications to build your own first party profiling data and perhaps, build your own walled garden. The increasing focus on subscriptions and requiring readers to login will only add force behind this. In other words. subscriber data when enriched with reading patterns can become equal to, if not richer than the data that third party cookies collect.
Publishers will also perhaps attempt their own advertising platforms, much like the social platforms and the large ecommerce players. These would essentially be bidding and placement platforms run by the publisher for advertising on their properties, with advertisers or even ad exchanges bidding on them, with no retargeting.
In short, the impending demise of the third party cookie should work out well for publishers, particularly if they play their cards well, unlike what happened with programmatic advertising.
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