Advertiser Perceptions Cookieless Future Report Captures A “Snapshot” Of Industry Evolution

Just before Google Chrome postponed its phaseout of third-party cookies until late 2023, publishers and advertisers were both optimistic and unprepared, according to Advertiser Perceptions’ latest Cookieless Future Report.

Based on surveys and interviews taken in April and May of this year, the report practically comes from a different age – but the data is also an interesting “snapshot in time” of the industry, said Advertiser Perceptions EVP of Business Intelligence Lauren Fisher.

Many publishers and advertisers had done little or nothing to develop a first-party data strategy or test new targeting and measurement solutions.

But publishers and advertisers were also optimistic that the changes would be good for the industry and for their businesses.

Seventy-one percent of advertisers and 67% of publishers surveyed by Advertiser Perceptions said they were optimistic that data privacy changes would benefit the industry in the long run.

“When I look back at the rollout of GDPR and CCPA, and look at survey results about preparedness from that time, they were not as optimistic as we see here,” Fisher said.

Some of the industry optimism may stem from GDPR and CCPA prep, Fisher said. Advertisers, publishers and ad tech have already undergone tectonic change that could have collapsed their business. The industry had to trust solutions would emerge to solve for new regulations, when real-world fixes didn’t exist yet.

“They have enough of a blueprint to follow that they generally feel prepared,” she said.

Despite the optimism, the results of the survey indicate the industry needed the deadline extension granted by Google.

Fifty-eight percent of advertisers are growing their first-party data collection capabilities, and 85% are auditing their ad tech and marketing partners to address the issue, according to the data. Preparing for a cookieless future can mean actively testing new identity solutions or simply having strategic conversations internally and informing executive teams, Fisher said.

Publishers are further along in the post-third-party cookie transition, Fisher said. It’s no surprise, considering publishers are on “the front lines” in this evolution, she said. Brands must reconsider marketing budgets, but for publishers it’s their lifeblood revenue at stake.

The main concern now is maintaining the sense of urgency when there no longer is the urgent deadline at the end of this year, Fisher said.

“What we heard from everyone was, ‘We’re full-steam ahead,’” she said. “But it does seem like it will be tough to keep the momentum going.”

Publishers are likely to keep the ball rolling with continued investments in first-party data targeting and measurement products, she said. Seventy-one percent of publishers are investing in first-party collection and a third are investing in Privacy Sandbox proposals during the next six months, according to the Advertiser Perceptions data.

With an additional couple of years, they will have more time to authenticate their audience based on email addresses. Then, publishers can build targeting features using that data, such as improved contextual offerings or cohort-based packages, she said.

On the advertiser side, only one in 10 advertisers surveyed said they have a mature first-party data strategy, Fisher said. Advertisers that have audited their ad tech vendors and measurement practices for third-party cookie deprecation are significantly more likely to already be testing new targeting solutions.

That means that if advertisers continue to review their ad tech stack and programmatic practices, the demand for new targeting strategies should materialize, she said. “It will be interesting to see in Q4 [when Advertiser Perceptions re-fields this identity data survey] whether people have backed off preparedness efforts or testing new measurement alternatives.”

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