Publishers Are Having A Moment – If Only They’ll Take It

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The impending deprecation of the third party cookie on Google Chrome, which will reportedly go into effect by the end 2024, has shaken the publishing industry. Digital advertisers and publishers, which utilized these cookies to glean information about web visitors, had grown increasingly dependent on third party cookies as the preferred method for identifying quality online prospects. . 

This moment is tumultuous for publishers who are faced with a new reality that requires additional investments in identity solutions in order to remain competitive in an ad-driven climate. Put another way, publishers are forced to spend on new infrastructures that allow them to own and monetize first party data in a way that keeps them competitive with the immense walled data gardens of Google and Facebook. It’s a significant challenge, to say the least. 

For many small and mid-sized publishers, the notion of developing a first party data strategy and then having to hire engineering talent to deploy that strategy is  enough to derail their business models. Nevermind the education required to understand the data monetization landscape, a highly technical and convoluted ecosystem previously relegated to the likes of Google.

With all the significant downsides of this seismic evolution, however, publishers ought to understand this as a paradigm-shifting moment and one that can equip them with both the knowledge and agency to make their own rules in the advertising landscape.

At the wake of digital publishing, publishers had an opportunity to own and monetize their own data but they didn’t take it. As a result, they grew dependent on search engines that collected and brokered the information from publishing audiences. Thanks to this dynamic, search engines have been mining and monetizing publisher data in a way that disproportionately benefits the search engines. In a world without the third party cookie, publishers can play a powerful role in the digital advertising ecosystem — if only they choose to act.

Understanding the power of publishers in this new world is predicated on understanding the power of the audience data that they have the capacity to capture. Building individual relationships with audience members of a digital outlet has immense potential for predicting behavior based on the content they consume, the contexts in which they consume, and the other ways they engage with the site.

When you scale this rich first party data across publishers, this power is immense. Data partners are popping up to offer scale in the form of first party data infrastructures for publishers that spread across large networks of sites. New privacy-compliant segments are being deployed, such as seller-defined audiences, which allow advertisers to target anonymized data sets of users that would be likely to buy or otherwise engage with their products or brands. 

“The potential of seller-defined audiences is exciting,” says Debra Fleenor, Founder and President of Adapex. “These special segments are an effective alternative to the third party cookie that can bridge the gap between privacy and intelligent advertising. SDAs span enthusiast and in-market groups, such as fashion lovers or auto intenders which rival the segmentations that Google offers in paid search and give publishers more control over their programmatic revenues.”

Adapex is an adops company that serves publishers, as well as advertisers and DSPs. They’re one of the first to introduce seller-defined audiences after their introduction last year by the IAB. Adapex also offers curation as a service, which gives DSPs transparency and agency over segment creation. 

“Independent publishers are an essential part of our content ecosystem and our media landscape,” says Fleenor. “The integrity of the ecosystem is dependent upon their ability to thrive.”