The Big Story: The Cookie Rumbles

The Big Story podcast

Cookies: Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em. Well, that depends on who you ask, and the experts disagree.

This week on The Big Story, the team examines both sides of the heated debate on the value, or lack thereof, of third-party cookie tracking.

On one side of the fence, a study from May finds a mere 4% increase in ad revenue on impressions with cookies.

But according to some academic studies and one piece of research backed by Google, removing cookies from bid requests is akin to stealing a publisher’s lollipop. Google claims that publisher revenue decreases by 52% on cookieless impressions. Sarah Sluis recently caught up with a marketing professor from Boston University named Garrett Johnson whose own research supports Google’s numbers.

Where does the truth lie? Perhaps somewhere in the middle. But there’s no middle ground on Twitter, where the dander is up whenever cookies are mentioned. “The cookie debate is pretty unmoored if a literature review makes people hit the roof,” Johnson tweeted after a chart he posted noting multiple pro-cookie studies triggered a slew of angry responses.

In the second half of our pod, we change gears and dive into the deep coffers of the big technology companies, which are becoming some of the biggest ad spenders out there. James Hercher has a rundown on what all the big guys – Alphabet, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Samsung – are spending on, and how their beaucoup budgets “reflect the birth of a new economy.”

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