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The advertising industry has seen drastic changes over the past year, with internet browsers shifting away from using third-party cookies to target audiences, deliver insights, and drive behavioral and interest-based advertising. This evolution in ad targeting has also affected publishers, and in 2019, Google reported that publishers could lose 52% of programmatic ad revenue on average due to the move away from third-party cookies.

Changes to data governance under laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have also accelerated the need for publishers to adapt. However, there is hope, and it lies within first-party data, which enables you as a publisher to deliver a better experience for both your audience and advertisers. Identity solutions and contextual advertising strategies will play an important role in the first-party data-driven advertising landscape going forward. In this article, we’ll cover 4 things publishers need to know about data changes.

How do first, second, and third-party data differ?

First-party data includes information that your media organization collects directly, for example, from your website visitors and subscribers. This data is especially valuable to your advertisers because you own it and you can use it to deliver the most strategic ad placements possible.

In contrast, second-party data is information that your company collects secondhand, for example, from a partner organization. Finally, third-party data is information that you get from a source with no direct link to your media organization’s audience. This type of data has become increasingly problematic over the years. Let’s dig into the reasons why.

How is the data privacy landscape evolving?

A massive amount of data is being collected nowadays, which has caused public concern around the world as well as a lack of trust in institutions, and has prompted new data privacy regulations to help protect personal information.

“One third of global citizens are ignorant about how their personal information is used by companies and governments,” says this article by Forbes.

As a publisher, it’s imperative that you maintain trust with your audience by understanding and following data privacy laws to keep their personal information secure. You can also build trust with your advertisers by ensuring that the data you use to target audiences with their ads is clean and legally obtained, which often excludes third-party data from the mix.

Which data regulations do publishers need to know about?

Three particular data privacy laws have made headlines over the past year, which we’ll discuss here. Increasing numbers of states are also considering their own laws, so it’s crucial to consult legal counsel to stay up to date on which specific regulations are relevant to your media company-”especially if you have an international audience.

  • CCPA: The CCPA applies to organizations that do business online with residents of California, and outlines California consumers’ rights to their personal information. This law is one of various federal and state privacy laws in the U.S., and took effect on January 1, 2020.
  • ePrivacy Directive: This European law was enacted in 2002 and is known as the “Cookie Law.” The law requires websites to ask visitors to accept cookies before tracking users’ activity.
  • GDPR: Another European law, the GDPR, was enacted in 2018. Unlike the ePrivacy Directive, it applies to companies worldwide who market to consumers living in the European Union. The law mandates that “personal data”, including information gathered from cookies, can only be collected with “specific, informed, and unambiguous” consent from users.

Which technology solutions can help publishers navigate the data privacy landscape?

Many publishers have turned to tech to help them become-”and stay-”compliant with data privacy regulations. Here are a few solutions you can explore:

Your reading list

As a publisher, it’s essential to know where your data is coming from, and to use data sources that will enable you to establish trust with your audiences and advertisers. Grab your coffee and take a deep dive into the world of data changes with these articles.

  1. A Basic Definition of First-Party, Second-Party, and Third-Party Data (HubSpot)
  2. The Evolution of the Internet, Identity, Privacy, and Tracking – How Cookies and Tracking Exploded, and Why We Need New Standards for Consumer Privacy (IAB Tech Lab)
  3. The Era of Free-flowing Data on the Internet has Passed (JP/Politikens Hus)
  4. Data Matters: Why Publishers are Missing out on Data-driven Revenue (Digiday)
  5. The Publisher’s Guide to Privacy in 2020 and Beyond (Primis)
  6. WTF is the California Consumer Privacy Act? (Digiday)
  7. ‘Completely Disproportionate and Mad’: Why ePrivacy is a Looming Nightmare for Publishers (Digiday)
  8. Open Online IDs Compete to be Ad Tech Standards (AdExchanger)
  9. Identity in AdTech: Meet The Various ID Solutions (Clearcode)
  10. CMPs for Publishers: A Comparison Guide (What’s New In Publishing)

Still have questions?

Contact Lineup for expert guidance on how you can serve your advertisers more effectively to drive greater revenue in your media business.


Lineup Systems is the world's leading provider of media sales technology, representing over 6,800 media brands globally, including Gannett/USA Today, New York Times and News Corp. Amplio is Lineup's multi- channel audience monetization solution that helps media companies realize their full reader revenue potential, using data-driven intelligence to engage, nurture and monetize readers with personalized offers that increase reader revenue and reduce churn. Adpoint is Lineup's end-to-end multi-channel media advertising sales solution that helps media companies streamline operations, make better use of data, increase efficiency and boost revenue.