The value of aligning advertiser and publisher goals in a post-cookie world

With the impending demise of the third-party cookie, advertisers and publishers have the opportunity to sync around a set of approaches that will achieve their respective goals, writes DoubleVerify’s Mimi Wotring as part of The Drum’s Data Deep. Dive.

As we peer deep into the cookie jar, advertisers and publishers continue to innovate solutions in order to succeed in a post-cookie media landscape. And, as the industry as a whole strives to redefine its relationship with third-party data, advertisers and publishers also have a unique opportunity to redefine their relationship, collaborating to achieve a common goal.

So what does the future hold without cookies? We hosted an anonymous roundtable with 12 leading advertisers and publishers to discuss this. Here is what they shared:

What the data says

While numerous studies have shown that the industry almost unanimously agrees that first-party data is the key to a cookie-free future, the question remains how each party is approaching this solution.

When asked how publishers’ proprietary data can best benefit all parties, publishers said that first and foremost, it needs to be aligned with privacy best practices. Afterward, when discussing the process of making this data usable for buyers, advertisers said it was all about scale, whether in open exchange or directly through a discrete list of top publishers.

Buyers want to rely on their own first-party data and transparent metrics. Obtained directly from consumers within a brand’s audience, first-party data is often described as having increased accuracy and consumer behavior prediction capabilities. At the same time, advertisers are demanding the measurement of this data and wondering what they will be able to see independently of cookies.

However, it is not that simple. Some publishers, especially those without subscription models, struggle to provide additional information to advertisers, using surveys and business operations experts to help them collect and/or scale their existing proprietary data. Additionally, accuracy is another sticking point: One editor expressed concern that “self-reported information is not always trustworthy.” These are issues that have yet to be resolved in the post-cookie era, and therefore measurement will play a vital role in understanding what tactics work.

The divide between publishers

There is a huge divide between big and small publishers about what tactics will work for them in a post-cookie era. Large publishers have the ability to engage directly with buyers, while smaller publishers typically use auctions to entice and intrigue. In turn, large publishers can use direct marketing tactics, while smaller, local publishers must run programs. It should be noted that there are potential gaps in measurement when it comes to programmatic direct versus, making it more likely that guaranteed programmatic deals and direct relationships will become more of a priority for publishers in the near future.

Despite these differences, there are advantages for advertisers to working with large and small publishers. Smart advertisers will have nimble approaches to ad buying to take advantage of the audiences that both types of publishers can offer.

looking to the future

While multiple alternatives exist, contextual advertising has come to the fore. Cookie-free matching of webpage content to ad content facilitates simplified yet effective targeting – benefiting all parties involved in its execution. However, for effective advertising to succeed, there must also be effective measurement and, ultimately, concrete consumer trust.

Driven by the desire to build a better ecosystem, consumer trust and measurability are paramount for buyers and sellers. User concerns about data processing have led to the move away from third-party cookies – industry needs to take a different approach in order to ensure consumer trust.

In order to justify such an approach, there must be a proper metric in place to analyze its effectiveness. However, while measurability is important, brands and publishers are hesitant to have “each other assess their homework,” as one editor noted. Clearly, further conversation is warranted regarding the necessity and benefits of neutral measurement.

As publishers strive to bring context, proprietary data, and identity solutions to market, now is the time to align their efforts with the needs of buyers. In the end, the most profitable ecosystem will be one that is collaborative and transparent.

Mimi Wotring is senior vice president of publisher sales and customer services at DoubleVerify.