Advertising Guest Columns
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The third-party cookie expiry date is extended, but publisher challenges remain

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Google’s temporary reprieve for the third-party cookie has added 18 additional months to the clock for digital publishers looking for alternatives. Focus has predominantly fallen on the need to keep momentum or risk being unprepared when the new deadline rolls around. But for publishers continuing to face challenges with potentially decreased reach, lower-valued segments, and greater pressure on CPMs, the question is: ‘what next?’

As the industry pivots away from third-party trackers, media owners are already aware that adapting data strategies is critical to maintaining advertising scale and match-rate accuracy, with data becoming scarcer and more anonymized. But while the will to embrace alternative audience-building approaches is strong, determining which ones to use isn’t easy.

Publishers need to find their own path, and an essential part of that is ensuring greater understanding of current solutions and how they can be used sustainably and flexibly.

Is first-party data the answer?

Most publishers have recognized the importance of tapping wider data sources to preserve content and advertising relevance, as well as revenue. They’ve also accepted that IDs will remain an integral element of ensuring audience addressability. As a result, attention has shifted to capitalizing on owned, first-party data.

This approach brings many benefits. By leveraging data from consenting users, publishers can safeguard their ability to offer privacy-safe, targeted reach across desirable segments of known users. They can also enable broader application of their user profiles – either through association with open-web ID solutions and networks, or by linking first-party data, along with publisher-provided IDs (PPIDs), into Google’s stack and using its identity connection layer to build bigger segments.

Optimising data management

Before the deprecation delay, it was predicted that the loss of third-party cookies would result in the majority of online users becoming anonymous. As privacy restrictions and measures from the likes of Apple steam ahead, despite Google’s delay, it seems likely first-party data will only ensure addressable reach for around 20% of users.

This means publishers must ensure they can navigate situations where first-party data is lacking; adopting strategies that incorporate other addressability options, such as enrichment and contextual ads. This will help them to shift in line with available data.

Such an adaptable model is exactly what innovative French publisher, Le Figaro, has recently introduced. Aiming to enhance data agility across its portfolio — including Le Figaro, CCM Benchmark, Figaro Classified, and Le Particulier — the media group joined forces with 1plusX to enable consistent, tailored advertising, both with and without cookies.

By implementing intelligent predictive technology, Le Figaro has gained the ability to build and enrich audience segments with its own first-party data, while staying aligned to privacy legislation. This means the publisher can seize every opportunity – switching from real-time audience and contextual, to first impression targeting, depending on the level of data access. With all users in range and ad delivery increases of up to 63%, Le Figaro is now looking to push ahead by integrating its full data pool and expanding into in-app targeting.

The road ahead for digital publishing

Publishers are far from short of choices. As the example of Le Figaro demonstrates, using predictive modeling technologies is one route that allows them to scale up reach. Powered by machine learning and combined with real-time data, these tools can help bring addressability to impressions, even in the absence of traceable user signals, and expand audience targeting against bespoke, verified accuracy rates.

Moreover, possibilities for tools with interoperable capabilities span even further. In addition to working with universal IDs to give publishers greater influence in open marketplaces – such as ID5 or the Trade Desk’s Unified ID – platforms are emerging that can integrate with cleanroom technology. This enables direct matches between advertisers and publishers, in accordance with audience similarities rather than personal attributes.

Ultimately, the main point is that publisher strategies from here on will likely need to be mixed. The privacy drive is creating complex challenges of many kinds – from disappearing cookies to mobile trackers – and it isn’t set to slow down anytime soon. To secure ad revenue and reach, publishers must refine their capacity to juggle an array of targeting tactics and optimize data value, while keeping user protection front and centre.

Jürgen Galler
CEO and Co-founder of 1plusX

1plusX, a marketing intelligence platform, enables leading media companies and brand marketers to unlock the full potential of their data. Developed by two ex-Google directors, 1plusX’s technology is powered by state-of-the-art AI algorithms that recognize patterns in user behavior across client data assets. In real-time, those are transformed into predictions and meaningful customer insights. With teams in Switzerland, Germany, Paris and Singapore, 1plusX brings together international experts in product management and engineering.