Cookie Apocalypse – What does it mean for Publishers?

Varun Hasija

Director - Product Development

Earlier in January 2020, Google announced its plans to phase out support for 3rd party cookies in Chrome by 2022. The announcement caught Mar-Tech and Ad-Tech companies unawares. And truth be told the ad ecosystem we see today would not exist without cookies. Now, Google is not the first company to announce the cookie ban - Firefox and Safari have already phased out third party cookies.

Google has mentioned that its change will happen over a course of two years as the company work with advertisers around the world. This is to ensure that the online advertising business doesn’t get destroyed by its announcement.

Because all the 3 major browsers in the world will stop supporting 3rd party cookies by 2022, Mar-Tech and Ad-Tech companies started calling it the “Cookie Apocalypse” or “Death of the third party cookie” or the time which will be followed as the “Post Cookie world”. Naturally, business experts have been buzzing about how it’ll change everything we do online.

But, do we really need to panic?

What are 3rd party cookies anyway ?

To help you prepare for a world without 3rd party cookies, let’s first understand how 3rd party and 1st party cookies work currently; what does the ban “actually” mean for the Publishers; and how you can build a strategy to survive in a post 3rd party cookie world.

First party cookies are cookies that belong to the primary domain visited by the user. So, if you’re visiting example.com, first party cookie containing user data would only be accessible to example.com.

Third-party cookies don’t originate from the primary domain visited by the user. These cookies often result from the services publishers add to make their sites work better (like adding social buttons or chat services or others).

Why do we use 3rd party cookies in advertising?

For Ad-Tech industry, targeting is the most essential component. Third party cookies allow advertisers and ad exchanges to track the websites visited, time spent on each website, clicks, locations, etc. of a user which help them follow the user and show them the same advertisement or its sequel wherever they go without even asking the user to login on those websites.

What happens when 3rd party cookies are banned ?

3rd party cookies help track users and their activities across domain. This helps publishers earn better CPMs because they are able to provide relevant information to advertisers. What happens if the advertisers can no longer access the third party cookies? First party data/cookie will become paramount. If third party cookies are banned, then you can only access first party data to make an informed decision about which ad to show to the user.

Publisher strategy and how to tackle the change

Now, that you’ve got a good idea of what 3rd party cookies are, it is easy to understand what actions you need to do as a publisher which can help you stay relevant even in the post 3rd party cookie world.

Since the announcement, the ad-tech industry has joined hands to build alternative solutions that are more privacy focused and sustainable. Many interesting theories and proposals like Universal IDs, contextual targeting, first party data platforms etc have cropped up, but it is difficult to tell how many of these solutions will pass the test of time.

To understand the problem better, let’s go through an analogy. Modern day publishers are at a position where newspapers have been for the last 10 years. Agencies do reach out to print partners, and even though the data is outdated and there's no direct attribution that can be made to print media, they still make a hell lot of money from ad revenue. Which means that agencies are buying the inventory through cookies until now, but it is all soon going to change in a couple of years.

Whatever happens and whichever solutions pass the test of time, we can be sure of two things happening,

1. Advertising is not going anywhere and it is going to stay,
2. Since the third party cookie/data is going away, one thing that is going to be common in all the solutions is the use of first party data.

You as a publisher should know who your users are and you should talk more about the value that this data adds to their inventory. Logged in platforms have way more data about their users than open web platforms, but at the same time the number of impressions are pretty less.

To bridge this gap, you need to know more about the users who are visiting your platforms. Think about how you can create data segments for users and what kind of data you'll need from the users which you can then use for running targeted campaigns and help you earn higher CPMs.

Email is the new cookie

The easiest way to keep a track of the user visiting your platform is asking them to provide their email ids, either via asking them to register for a newsletter or when they submit a support query or some other way in which user would have to provide their email ID. With this information in place, you now know who the user is and then you can track their activity throughout the platform, the content they visit, their interests, likes and dislikes etc and then use this data for targeting. Recording the user data is only half way through. With strict regulations and compliances like GDPR, CCPA coming into picture, it is important to take the user's consent before sharing their data with ad partners.

Once you've this data and consent available, you can then plug it into your favourite DMP/Marketing platform and then enjoy the high CPMs that come as a part of authenticated traffic.

How Doceree helps its publishers to be ready for a post cookie world ?

Doceree is on a mission to change how the pharma marketing is done. We want to democratise the way how publishers can provide the information about Physicians visiting their platforms and then earn higher CPMs.

With Doceree's inbuilt DMP and identity resolution platform ESPYIAN™, you can segregate the audiences that you have on the basis of location, specialisations, age, behaviour etc and then set your own floor pricing based upon the expectations that you have from the advertisers.

All of this is done with the help of real-time bidding system in which multiple advertisers take part.

To support our Publishers make a transition from not recording user data to monetising it, we also provide eTAGS which can be used in the emailers/newsletters that are sent out which can help you improve the authenticated traffic and improve your revenue opportunities.

Newsletters build trust with the audience and allow publishers to establish a relationship. It can also act as a launchpad for a subscription-based model, thus helping you diversify your revenue sources.

Conclusion

Although it is too early to say which solution will trump the rest in a cookie less world, one thing that we're sure of is that how you as a publisher record first party data and maintain it is going to define the revenue opportunities that you can develop with any ad partner.

Cookie ban is going to change the way marketing is done and if you are a healthcare publisher looking for support in surviving the post-apocalyptic world, then we want to be your partner and help you create a strategy for data-driven marketing on your platform.

Reach out to us on info@doceree.com and a dedicated publisher specialist will be waiting for you to get all your queries answered.

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