Publishers view end of the cookie as an opportunity to work with brands

But brands are still too reliant on third-party cookies for now, according to a study from Forrester and Permutive.

When it comes to the days of tracking individuals online, the writing is on the wall. 

Apple will soon eliminate support for user tracking on its mobile devices, Google is phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome, and multiple states have ramped up data-privacy legislation.  

While these changes aim to protect people’s privacy online, they have big implications for how online advertising works — and not all brands are ready for the shift.   

A study released by Forrester and ad tech platform Permutive found that 70% of brands are concerned that consumers will decline data sharing consent.  

Publishers, however, are stepping up to meet that demand. According to the study, 50% of publishers see data deprecation as an opportunity to work more closely with advertisers, and 95% have already begun building first-party data monetization strategies to do so.  

“One of the most essential things for publishers to do is form partnerships [with brands],” said Aphrodite Brinsmead, senior product marketing manager at Permutive. “Everything within the ecosystem is changing, and it means that [advertisers and publishers] have to change their processes and ways of working.” 

Since Google announced it would end support for third party cookies last year, 90% of publishers have created at least one direct relationship with a brand, while 60% said they have five or more direct relationships with brands who are using their first-party data for targeting. Meanwhile, almost half (48%) of brands surveyed said they have developed five or more direct relationships with publishers. 

While publisher revenues may be challenged in the short-term by the loss of cookies, those that have a large, engaged audience and are able to sell against their first-party audience data see opportunity for more sustainable growth. Thirty-eight percent of publishers believe increasing privacy will impact their ability to monetize their first-party data. 

“In the past, [brands] got data from third parties, and it really devalued publishers,” Brinsmead said. “If they have their own first-party data, it can help them differentiate and make sure that campaigns match the brand, rather than just being bought in the open marketplace. Having that insight can help advertisers plan which types of audiences they want to reach.”  

Still, brands have work to do when it comes to weaning off third-party cookies. Only 39% of brands currently use publishers’ first-party data in half or more of their campaigns, and 41% say they still rely mostly or exclusively on third-party data.  

Education and new technology will help brands catch up, Brinsmead says.  

“Having a consent mechanism in place, like language on websites that give customers the option [to share data] and tell them what [brands] are going to do with that data, can be beneficial,” she said. 

As the pushback against online tracking gets louder, consumer trust is the priority on both sides, with 42% of publishers putting improving customer satisfaction and trust ahead of increasing subscriptions, and 36% of brands saying the same.

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