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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

4 ways media execs can turn the death of cookies to their advantage

July 24, 2023 | By Jason Kalin, Chief Business Officer – Nativo @Nativo

After what seems like an endless amount of anticipation, Google will begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome in six months, and fully within the next year. 

At this point, today’s media executives have spent years being told that they need to prepare themselves for the deprecation of third-party cookies in Chrome. They’ve been assured that the significant limitations of third-party cookies mean their demise is no great loss in the first place, and they’ve been given step-by-step instructions for transitioning away from third-party cookies altogether. 

The assurances are true. And the bits of advice are practical. But there’s more to the story—and it’s time for us to mentally take the next step on the journey to a cookieless digital ecosystem.

What if—just what if—the loss of third-party cookies is actually an opportunity for publishers to strengthen themselves for the long haul and position themselves for growth, rather than mere survival? While so many in the online ecosystem are busy calculating the anticipated downside of third-party cookie deprecation, there’s an opportunity for future-minded media executives to be flipping the narrative and telling ad buyers why cookieless targeting will be a boon to their campaigns.

Let’s take a look at four points that media companies should be emphasizing to buyers as our industry transitions toward cookieless targeting tactics.

Reinvigorating appreciation for quality 

Moving forward into a cookieless reality, the publishing industry is going to see renewed energy being put into contextual targeting, richer and more content-focused ad formats, and publisher-powered insights around user behavior, personas and people’s affinity toward content and brands. In other words, the value of content is coming back to the foreground, and that’s incredibly good news for today’s publishers. 

Media execs that lean into what they know about their visitors—who engage with certain content, including native articles and who have a high propensity to click on native display or interact with brand content and sites—are going to be able to offer unique targeting options to advertisers. Moreover, they’re going to be able to demonstrate the quality of their audiences as a result of the quality of their sites, enabling them to assign higher value to their inventory. 

Driving greater return on ad spend

Those that lean into cookieless targeting are also going to be able to demonstrate greater CPA and CPC performance for advertisers. That’s because certain cookieless targeting options, particularly ones that leverage publisher data to predict user behavior and directly connect buyers and publishers based on expected results, are able to eliminate third-party data fees. Media companies can promote to advertisers the added price efficiencies on non-cookied inventory, which results in higher win rates at lower clearing CPMs.

Offering more-efficient campaigns

Going one step further, cookieless targeting built around the power of publishers and their insights means advertisers can save the time and expense associated with onboarding data. That’s a big selling point for publishers that embrace the cookieless ecosystem and the value of their audience data. Furthermore, these publishers can help advertisers find new users to build retargeting pools, while also obtaining greater reach and reduced latency by serving Safari and iOS users (i.e., users lost within cookie-driven campaigns). 

Moving consumers from consideration to action

Finally, let’s talk outcomes: By reprioritizing content and content-driven ad formats within the advertising ecosystem, cookieless targeting lets advertisers find new prospects in the consideration phase and drive them to their site to increase click-through conversions and strengthen retargeting tactics. In other words, publishers can help their advertisers get a much better handle on their mid-funnels and ensure these high-value consumers are given every incentive to take action. 

The final push into a cookieless digital ecosystem is approaching fast, and given the headlines of the past three years, it’s understandable that most publishers are feeling trepidation. But the reality is that cookieless tactics and solutions are precisely what today’s online publishers need to realign their advertising offerings around the true value and quality that they can deliver. Ultimately, for the publishers that embrace it, the move to a cookieless world will be what drives long-term sustainability. 

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