With the end in sight for third party cookies following Google’s bombshell announcement in January, first party data is set to become the dominant currency in the digital ad market. Publishers are in a unique position to take advantage of this, with direct reader relationships and a wealth of first party data at the heart of their businesses.

But practically, what changes need to be made to make the best of these opportunities? At Permutive’s inaugural Make Possible Online Summit, held virtually on 23rd April, experts from four publishers came together to discuss how publisher data is the new media currency, chaired by Permutive’s Becky Dutta.

Here, we round up the key takeaways from how ESI Media, Condé Nast, The Telegraph and The Financial Times are forging new relationships and evolving their business models to adapt to data now being seen as a publisher asset instead of a commodity.

Google as a catalyst

All four publishers agreed that the move from Google to phase out support for third party cookies was positive, and would help steer the industry in the right direction.

“We’ve suffered a bit from massive innovation in digital ad tech, and we’ve started to do things because we can rather than perhaps because we should do them,” said Jo Holdaway, ESI Media’s Chief Data Officer. “This announcement may recalibrate the industry a little bit into doing things and thinking about the consumer at the end of it.”

Chris Austin, Condé Nast’s Director of Data and Insight said that it feels like publishers and advertisers have come full circle. “In the early days, advertising was about content, and where it was on the website, what parts do you put advertising campaigns against, and then came all of this ad tech that allowed you to target individuals,” he explained.

“Now, we’re coming back to a place where it’s very much about context and content again, with more sophistication around the tools that we can use to do that.”

The Telegraph’s Senior Director of Commercial Innovation Karen Eccles said that she felt a sense of relief about the announcement in January, because they knew that it was the right thing to do. “It took Google to make that announcement, and to act as the catalyst for everyone,” she said. “It will be very tough for businesses that have focused around third party cookies and data, but hopefully the best of them will adapt.”

“It’s been very difficult in recent years for that whole programmatic ecosystem to put value on quality environments,” Eccles explained. “There’s been a temptation to slide towards creating content that’s just there to deliver ad impressions and clicks, and none of that’s delivering any value.”

Cookies and communication challenges

Each publisher may have agreed that the move was positive and welcomed, but that doesn’t mean that phasing out the use of third-party cookies will be without its challenges.

Lucy Marchington, the Financial Times’ Media Director said that the main shift for the FT will be more trying to get on the front foot and be more strategic around their use of data. “First-party data has always been important to the FT, especially our declared demographic data,” she outlined. “We’ve always defended it and seen it as a really big asset, which we’ve wanted to make sure we don’t abuse.”

Read the rest of this article by Esther Kezia Thorpe on What’s New in Publishing…

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