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As the impending end of third-party cookies grows closer, media organizations worldwide are working to adapt their business models and change their approaches to digital advertising. In an exclusive survey conducted by Adweek Branded, a subsidiary of Adweek, more than 100 sell-side digital advertising executives responded to questions about how their organizations are adjusting to the new future of a cookieless environment.

The report based on these responses, “The Future of Sell-Side Digital Advertising: How publishers are embracing a cookieless future”, takes a deep dive into the opportunities for publishers in this new digital world, and the obstacles presented by the increased focus on first-party data. In this article, get our key takeaways from the report, such as  how publishers are embracing this dramatic change and the opportunities it presents, the challenges they need to meet along the way, and the tactics they’re exploring to tackle their new data-driven priorities.

Key takeaways from the Adweek report

The death of third-party cookies brings opportunity

A gloom and doom perspective often punctuates discussions of a future without cookies, and publishers everywhere are already grappling with the disruption that’s erupted as they move toward a cookieless world. But, as our new Adweek report discloses, the view forward brings with it more than a mere glimmer of hope: among marketers, there is a growing awareness of the opportunities that the death of the cookie brings. 

These opportunities include the diversification of revenue streams, a refinement of contextual advertising strategies, and the potential for an increase in the value of CPMs. On the flip side, however, marketers are also realizing the many challenges presented by their first-party data, such as incomplete or inaccurate data. In response, publishers are creating strategies to better leverage these new opportunities, and seeking out comprehensive tech solutions to ease their data woes. 

Data is the focus for the future

Our Adweek report also dives into publishers’ top strategic priorities as they move away from the third-party cookie environment over the next two years. With first-party data being the clear wave of the future, most marketers see the enhancement of such data as their main priority. The use of data to refine their contextual advertising and subscription models are two other data-driven goals topping marketers’ priority lists. 

Some marketers are bringing a sophisticated approach to their use of customer data, while others, new to such concepts, struggle with how they can put their first-party data to work. Despite this variance in approaches, most marketers already have plans underway to find ways to expand or otherwise enrich the value of their first-party data. This includes a strategic focus on gaining more control over their data to enhance customer experience. 

The tactics driving marketers’ strategic opportunities

While data is the focus of the future, our report also explores what marketers see as their single biggest strategic growth priorities over the next two years. For most marketers, media channels -”branded and native content, podcasts and audio, and video and streaming-”top this list of priorities. 

In addition to the involvement of these media channels, our report also discloses how marketers’ chosen tactics showcase their focus on providing the best customer experience possible. This focus on the customer is reflected in how marketers rank their obstacles to success, with incomplete and inaccurate data, data privacy, and unclear customer identity topping the list. Going forward, data that is both accessible and accurate will form the building blocks of digital advertising.

The technology challenges behind first-party data

The road toward the opportunities in this future without third-party cookies continues to be paved with obstacles. To deal with the challenges of first-party data, such as inaccuracy and incompleteness, most marketers are evaluating how best to use technology to both improve their data-driven strategies and meet their increased data needs. 

This Adweek report digs into the comprehensive tech solutions that are challenging marketers looking for the right technology to assist in the rapid digital transformation that’s taking place within the new cookieless environment. From a technology perspective, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and data monetization, data clean rooms/data enhancement, addressable targeting, and identity solutions are all aspects of the tech puzzle marketers are seeking to solve.

How publishers view Big Tech

The relationship between publishers and Big Tech continues to be a hot topic going forward. Our Adweek report delves into how publishers perceive Big Tech as “frenemies”, with trust continuing to be a major problem. One significant aspect of this “frenemies” context is the feeling most publishers have that Big Tech does not have their best interests at heart. 

The death of the cookie, however, lends itself to a significant impact on the publisher-Big Tech relationship. The resulting prioritization of first-party data provides publishers with the opportunity to gain greater control of ad placement within the contextual environment. This, combined with the improvement in customer experience gained through reduced reliance on open exchange ad inventory, promises to have a significant effect by increasing customer trust.

A behind-the-scenes look at how the report was created

In a world where publishers are rapidly moving to embrace a future without third-party cookies, it becomes increasingly important that we understand how data will drive the future of sell-side digital advertising, the opportunities that are available for publishers in this new environment, and the obstacles that must be overcome. 

As part of its ongoing commitment to bring publishers the most up-to-date and relevant industry research, Lineup commissioned Adweek Branded to prepare this report exploring how publishing and media companies are adjusting their business models and transforming their digital advertising approaches as we head into a cookieless digital future. 

In preparing the report, Adweek surveyed more than 100 sell-side digital advertising professionals, all marketing leaders within their organizations, with over half representing $50M+ brands. The insights revealed by the report include: 

  • The opportunities provided by the end of cookies for publishers to take back control
  • How data will drive the future, and the continued growth in importance of this focus on first-party data
  • Accessible and accurate data as the building blocks of digital advertising
  • Challenges presented by the comprehensive tech solutions available to enhance the transformation that’s taking place

To read the full report, download “Are Publishers Ready for the Post-Cookie Future?” now.

Belle Wong

Belle Wong is a freelance writer from Toronto, Canada. She specializes in SAAS, small business, and marketing, and likes to write novels in her spare time.