How publishers can prepare for an uncertain future

Contributor, September 14, 2022


    • First-party data is an important bedrock for all publishers

    • In-depth knowledge of your audience can help weather any storm

    • Never be afraid to ask industry partners for advice

How publishers can prepare for an uncertain future

Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

The brakes have been reapplied to Google’s phase-out of third-party cookies.

Now slated for 2024, this comes as no surprise to anyone who has been watching the situation develop. The constraints of Google’s own solutions and lack of a front-running replacement means too many would be left in the lurch if the phase-out were to go ahead.

In an ideal world, we would see an industry standard endorsed by the likes of the IAB, laying a solid foundation to build upon going forward. But as it stands, no one solution has the scalability to succeed. Ultimately, this leaves publishers stuck in the same position — in limbo until a workable answer appears.

In the fast-paced world of digital media, changes of direction such as these can throw publishers into a panic. However, being prepared for whatever comes down the pipeline is important for negotiating these twists and turns. Here’s how your company can be ready for anything:


First-party first

Focusing on first-party data can provide a solid backbone for all publishers, especially as the cookie depreciates. While the cookie gets a bad rap, identifiers were what the open web was built on. But we are now seeing a transformation towards a more privacy-focused web, and Google’s deadline shift doesn’t stop that.

All publishers should be pushing forward with crafting an effective and privacy-secure first-party data strategy. Not only does this provide a buffer against incoming privacy changes, such as the proposed UK Data Reform Bill, but these rich audience insights can also help to increase the value of ad inventory in a sustainable way.

This data needs to be stored responsibly, not only to stay on the right side of regulations, but because this is data on your customers – keeping their personal information safe should be a top priority.

Listen to your audience

Cookies have allowed publishers to keep a distance from their audience. This separation has made it easier to view site visitors purely in terms of clicks and ROI. But as time goes on, this level of detachment is clearly unsustainable.

Listening to what your audience wants — whether via social media, questionnaires, or login pages — can help to build closer relationships between publisher and audience. Not only can existing content be better tailored, but it can also provide guidance on the creation of additional revenue streams — whether that be audio, video, subscriptions, or newsletters.

Trust Your Content

Ultimately, having a solid content strategy can provide any publisher with stability in times of uncertainty. Maintaining quality in everything from the content produced to the user experience will ensure that audiences keep returning. This needs to be done sustainably, with medium- and long-term planning having flexibility built in to deal with industry shifts.

Gain a wider perspective

When caught up in the latest twist or turn, it can often be difficult to see the bigger picture. Technology and regulations are always changing and always have done. The latest sticking point that may feel like the end of the world is simply another evolution in digital publishing.

In situations like these, publishers need to know they can lean on their partners — the advice and knowledge they can provide are invaluable. The insights gained from the wider perspective of trusted and informed partners are vital for effective decision-making.

If you would like to find out more about what the latest Google delay means for you, how to harness a first-party data strategy, or ask our advice on other publishing trends, feel free to get in touch