The NDA Roundtable: Publishing’s future in a post-cookie world

The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation has been around for less than two years but already it is having a huge impact on marketing and its future direction. Few believe that the third party cookie – a fundamental bedrock of much of digital advertising as we know it – has a viable future.

What, if anything, will replace it – and can advertisers, agencies and publishers survive in a post-cookie world?

New Digital Age gathered together Milton Elias, Head of Platforms and Innovation at News UK; Mary Keane-Dawson, NED and management consultant; Theo Theodorou, Sales Director, Microsoft Advertising; Amit Kotecha, Permutive Marketing Director and Emily Brewer, UK Head of Publishing at Teads joined Bluestripe Media MD Andy Oakes
to discuss the implications.

GDPR, browser changes aimed at protecting a consumer’s privacy and further regulations from the likes of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which came into force earlier this month are all dramatically reducing the role of third-party cookies. 

Theodorou said: “This is all making it harder for a third party cookie ecosystem to work and that’s a real challenge for publishers.”

Publishers particularly have seen revenue drops following GDPR’s introduction but Kotecha believes that short term pain could lead to longer term gain. 

He urged the industry to shift to first-party data, with systems and solutions that baked privacy in, rather than concentrating on workarounds that mask the bigger picture. 

Kotecha said: “A lot of publishers freaked out because their revenues declined straight away. We have done a lot of education this year around why this is actually a positive thing. Because if third-party data disappears, they’re the only ones with the data advertisers need.”

These data developments and shifts in attitude have helped shape News UK’s commercial strategy. Elias said: “There’s far bigger consumer understanding and awareness of data and how the big platforms use it and how they might be exploited by those platforms. 

“The privacy moves that continue into this year have partly shaped how we have positioned ourselves but also has highlighted more and more the benefits of first-party publisher data and that quality, trusted news environments matter more now than ever.”

It has launched a beta version of NewsIQ, centred around the preferences of opinions and emotions and the connection its news brands have with their audiences. It is also exploring new initiatives, such as podcasts and talk radio.

Such innovations have helped shift advertiser and agency perceptions of publisher and platform offerings, with Brewer citing: “For us, the biggest noticeable thing [in 2019] was a shift in trust from the social platforms.”

It is why all agreed there was a real opportunity for trusted, premium publishers with rich, first-party data and loyal readerships to prosper in a post-cookie world. 

In fact, said Keane-Dawson, with publishers who can sell such environments to consumers and brands “advertising might just be able to save itself”.

Part one of the roundtable report is here and part two is here.

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