Google’s new group of publishers show willingness to collaborate

For publishers like AccuWeather, Advance Local and Leaf Group, Google’s willingness to make members of its advertising and Chrome teams available to answer questions from a nascent group of publishing executives is not only indicative of a change in how the company engages publishers as it develops technology. that will affect businesses across the digital media and advertising ecosystem it also stands in stark contrast to Apple’s stand-alone approach to implementing tracking changes, which has resulted in landslides that will sweep across the industry.

“They show a certain vulnerability that isn’t always associated with Google and is remarkable to see,” said Jeff Sutton, vice president of ad technology and programming at news publisher Advance Local, which publishes sites such as and Oregon Live, and is a member of the group. He called the approach of Google executives and engineers to video meetings “open and candid.”

Digiday was the first to report earlier this week on the existence of the group, which is made up of around 20-25 publishers and has been meeting monthly since March with executives and engineers from Google Ads and the Chrome division. .

Publishers in the group, which includes very large publicly listed companies as well as smaller firms such as small advertising site management firm CafeMedia, said Google was willing to answer unsolicited questions from publishers during meetings. — and sometimes even admit they’re unsure of certain answers — is a positive sign of the tech platform’s recognition that it needs to clear up the confusion and even assuage the grudges sparked when Google took the industry on its head. unprepared by announcing its intentions to kill third-party cookies in its Chrome browser and in unclear blog posts about cookie-replacement advertising technology through its Privacy Sandbox initiative.

“There was a lot of backlash from the publisher community on the Twitter and Slack channels and confusion” when Google first announced its decision to discourage third-party cookies, Scott Messer said, vice president of media at Leaf Group, which owns publications such as Livestrong and eHow. and attend meetings. “If you looked at some of their early efforts in Chrome changes and proposed solutions, they may not have been well understood by the community, which is creating confusion and leading to slower adoption of the very progression of the idea,” he said.

Fix Google Missteps

Although members have said the meetings are not meant to be clandestine, this is the first time some of them have been named. In general, publishers are reluctant to speak officially about issues with their partnerships with Google because of their reliance on the company to manage key parts of their revenue streams. “Google is almost everyone’s greatest partner,” Messer said. “We have a responsibility to at least try to help them get it right.”

Much of the agenda for these meetings focuses on privacy sandbox technologies in development at Google, including its now burgeoning Federated Learning of Cohorts advertising targeting method. Publishers and Google itself told Digiday that other more general topics, such as first-party data and how Google’s Ad Manager platform will support direct publisher sales, were also discussed. addressed. Members of the group – who have different business models based on direct ad sales, programmatic ads, display and video inventory – said they were not aware of any information from Google that is not not public.

“I believe [the Google meetings are] an honest effort to listen and learn from all sides,” said Stephen Mummey, vice president of digital ad revenue and technology at AccuWeather, a member of the group meeting with Google. “He sails together what it’s going to look like.”

“One of my responsibilities [at Advance Local] is to help map out our overall ad tech strategy, and by attending those meetings, I had no idea how to help prepare our organization for this change, and as a result of those meetings, we were able to better understand and prepare for this very consequential change that Google is driving in the industry. We could strategize in a way that we couldn’t before we got those calls,” Sutton said.

While there are benefits for publishers in the group, people interviewed for this story also said Google has an incentive as well. As it evolves Privacy Sandbox advertising methods and other tools, the group serves as a sounding board. “We’re an effective focus group,” Sutton said.

“Apple doesn’t seem to want to help publishers

In its outreach to publishers through monthly meetings, publishers said Google is serving as a foil to Apple, which has been criticized for its lack of engagement with companies affected by drastic operating system changes that give people a bigger way to opt out of tracking. through apps.

Apple’s business is less dependent on advertising than Google’s, even though “they [Apple] depends on the publisher and the developer ecosystem,” Messer said. Despite this, he said, “Apple doesn’t seem to want to help publishers or advertisers. They have taken a very strict stance on privacy and have not offered any tools or solutions or anything to really [help publishers] operate.” Apple did not respond to a request for comment in time for this article to be published.

“Apple just turned everything off,” Mummey said. “Google is trying to bring it out into the open.”

Google’s new publisher group shows a willingness to collaborate, say members including AccuWeather and Advance Local