Journalism’s Future in a Cookie-less World

Google Chrome, which controls a major chunk of the global browser markets, declared that by late 2023 it will pull the plug on third-party cookie tracking support. For some time now, Safari and Firefox, the world’s second and third most popular web browsers, have already put restrictions on third-party cookies to preserve users’ privacy. This had to happen.  

  Major events such as the implementation of GDPR in Europe, the furore over the Cambridge Analytical mess and a series of headline-making data breach stories across the world further educated the public. Brand conscious Apple saw a marketing opportunity to present itself as a privacy-friendly tech company and declared the release of software updates to make it harder for advertisers to track apps and browsers. Google itself made the decisive declaration based on a public opinion polling from Pew Research Center. The results showed that 72% of Americans are uncomfortable with tracking, 81% of the responders believed that the cons of tracking outweigh the pros. A key finding from the report was that almost half of Americans decided not to use a product or service due to privacy concerns.  

So how does this concern the future of journalism and publishers?  

For one it is a golden opportunity for organisations built on public trust- Journalism. An effective system built on a sound first-party data strategy will help readers, marketers and the publishing house. Organisations are already moving in that direction. Dutch media house JP/Politikens Hus and News UK with its first-party data platform Nucleus to name a few. We have three intriguing strategies that publishing houses should evaluate to understand which one fits them the best.     

  • On-Site Audience Targeting  

The simplest of first-party data strategies. This approach simply requires the publishing house to run ads- on site. The publisher can educate the advertiser about the available audience and enable the campaign. The publisher can help the advertiser target the audience in multiple ways, including via programmatic pipes using Private Marketplace (PMP) or Programmatic Guaranteed deals. While programmatic pipes will offer more control of campaign management, some advertisers might prefer to use conventional Insertion Orders and creative tags to run ads via your ad server.  

  • Off-Site Audience Extension  

On-site targeting is the way to go for most publishers. But in case you run a paid subscription product, things get a bit complicated. This calls for an Off-Site Audience Extension. The publishing house will have to act like an internal agency and allow advertisers to retarget your audience outside of your properties. Educating the advertiser with demographic and behavioural data can provide advertisers with an extra edge. The downside is that it requires publishers to effectively set up and manage their own data trade desk.  

  • Audience Extension via Curated Marketplaces  

This one is exciting. Curation opens the door to new audience extension and data monetisation opportunities. Even if publishers don’t actively run ads on their properties, curation makes it possible to monetise first-party audiences without compromising on brand values or privacy compliance. Publishers can slice and dice their valuable first-party segments for advertisers without ever sharing complete data sets or Personally Identifiable Information.  

In a cookie-less world, first-party data will have its value enhanced. As custodians of this data, publishers and journalists will have to evolve into new roles. They will get a seat at the negotiation table and will have to come prepared. Right now, is the best time to set up, collect and convert your first-party data into an opportunity for growth.