Google has once again delayed its deadline for the end of third-party cookies on Chrome, now slated for the second half of 2024 . This moving target has made it difficult for online publishers to focus on preparing for a cookieless future. The task of replacing cookies seems overwhelming, and the fear of making a bad decision is forcing many into “analysis paralysis.”
Don’t let uncertainty get in the way of your progress. The worst choice you can make amid these continued delays is to do nothing at all. Instead, look at this extended timeline as a chance to take deliberate steps that will strengthen your ad program now — and position you for success in a world without cookies.
Here are five ideas to get you started:
- Start testing cookie alternatives. It’s important to remember that more than 40% of all online traffic is already free of third-party cookies. That means cookie-free browsers like Safari and Firefox provide an ideal environment for testing and experimentation.
Now is the time to assess your cookieless traffic. Set up tests to see what kind of results you can achieve without third-party data. Consider an investment in addressability to help drive higher CPMs. Explore membership in a data collective to combine and connect your own audience data with other like-minded publishers. Engage with advertisers to demonstrate your ability to deliver high-value audience segments without third-party data. Any work you can do today will not only increase the current value of your inventory, but also set you up for future success.
- Leverage audience attention to maximize ad value. Today’s ad ecosystem depends on cookie data for tracking user behavior, authenticating identity, and setting ad rates — but it doesn’t have to be that way. Publishers and ad buyers alike are beginning to recognize the power of audience attention and its potential for measuring and predicting ad performance.
By tapping into the “attention economy”, publishers have a unique opportunity to regain control of inventory pricing. Using a reliable, scalable measure of attention — like engaged time — publishers can more easily identify, target, and sell highly desirable audience segments without relying on third-party cookies and increase ad revenue in the process.
- Look for new revenue opportunities. Experts predict that the eventual loss of third-party cookies may cost the industry up to $10 billion in ad revenue. If you’re like most publishers, your monetization strategy relies heavily on advertising — which means it’s time to look for new ways of driving revenue.
The good news is publishers have countless options for diversifying their earning potential. Within the affiliate marketing space alone, you have a wide array of tactics like curated shopping, price comparisons, product reviews, and other types of commerce content. Every publisher should consider which techniques are the best fit for their unique brand and audience, but revenue diversification can help to smooth out the inevitable ebbs and flows across the industry.
- Optimize your ad operations. Digital advertising is a complex business and having the right ad ops team can help to ensure you’re earning as much ad revenue as possible. An expert ad ops partner can provide technical expertise and cutting-edge technology to fine-tune your strategy and maximize ad revenue — without the cost of hiring and managing a dedicated in-house team. And if you’re already outsourcing your ad ops function, it’s good business practice to re-evaluate your ad ops partner from time to time.
- Take a closer look at your technology stack. If you’re reviewing vendors and technology, this is a great time to examine your ad stack from top to bottom. That includes everything from your DSP, SSP, and DMP to analytics, optimization, and retargeting tools (and so much more).
The ad ecosystem is incredibly diverse, with a vast assortment of technology, solutions, and services to help you build a successful ad strategy. Having the right ad tech in place — and choosing the right partners — can help to ensure your ad program is ready for whatever the future brings. This moving target will certainly frustrate some. However, if you view the added time as an opportunity to test and prepare you not only re-frame the situation, odds are that you will develop a solid solution.
About the Author
Rebecca Cole is the Director of Content and Communications for Sovrn, a publishing technology platform that provides advertising tools, technologies, and services for content creators to build their businesses, remain independent, and thrive on the Open Web. Rebecca has more than two decades of experience driving increased attention through purpose-driven content. She has held communications positions in tech, energy, and consumer brands and was a journalist and editor. Rebecca has an undergraduate degree from The University of Iowa and a master’s degree in journalism from The University of Colorado Boulder.