If Publishers Want To Stay Competitive, They Need To Prepare For The Cookieless Future Today

Todd Tran, CSO of Teads

The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Todd Tran, chief strategy officer, Teads

In preparation for the cookieless future, publishers have made strong improvements to their business models. Some are focusing on higher-quality content, while others are collecting first-party data from users who log into their sites. At the same time, advertising and buy-side platforms are attempting to develop solutions for the cookieless world.

While these developments are no doubt encouraging, they’re not a panacea.

If publishers want to ensure they’re set up to succeed by the end of next year, they need to take their fate into their own hands right now – and that means offering users true value.

Two steps to cookieless success  

To prepare for the future, some organizations are congregating around unified IDs, which are anonymous IDs that track users across the web.

Personally, I do hope more publishers sign on to the unified ID initiative. In my opinion, it’s a really good solution. But it’s an incredibly hard solution, too.

To be able to achieve workable scale with unified IDs, publishers will need to create a strong value exchange to persuade their users to log in, which can take years. What’s more, unified ID initiatives will need to get to a point where a large volume of publishers have opted in. Not to mention there are several competing solutions that are currently not interoperable.

While I believe unified IDs will have a place in our ecosystem in some form, if you’re relying solely on them to rescue you in the cookieless world, you’re out of luck.

Still, the arrival of the cookieless world is an opportunity for publishers to win business from competitors that aren’t ready. And it just takes two steps to effectively prepare for the inevitable.

1. Provide true value

While having logged-in users isn’t the only way to leverage first-party data, it provides a greater depth of information. But, like unified IDs, it’s an uphill battle to get users to register. To get the sign-ups they desperately need, publishers must develop a content and monetization strategy based on a strong value exchange. Users need a strong reason to register and log in. There are plenty of successful examples of this value exchange already on the market, such as The Independent, which offers subscribers “limited access to premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists.”

2. Account for anonymous users

Since most publishers won’t have enough logged-in users to scale to the same level they had using third-party cookies, they need to use technology that enables them to gain insight into anonymous user behavior, too. Primarily, this includes solutions that anonymously track movements on a publisher’s site, but not anywhere outside of it. Contextual signals and AI or predictive audiences can help, too.

By prioritizing these two steps, publishers are giving advertisers the best possible opportunity to buy sustainable media that delivers real business outcomes.

Prepare for the cookieless future today

As cookie deprecation nears, publishers need to prioritize user identification and targeting. And they need to do so today. Failure to adjust business models ahead of time will almost certainly have an adverse impact on the bottom line. 

On the flip side, the faster publishers tackle the problem head-on, the sooner they’ll be in control of their own destinies and gain a competitive advantage. Where there is danger, there is most certainly opportunity.

Follow Teads (@Teads) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

Enjoying this content?

Sign up to be an AdExchanger Member today and get unlimited access to articles like this, plus proprietary data and research, conference discounts, on-demand access to event content, and more!

Join Today!