Any recent time spent on Google, Linkedin, Twitter (etc) researching identity in publishing will have quickly got you seeing phrases such as “death of 3rd party cookies”, “cookiepocalypse”, and “the 2022 data crash” – an endless stream of scaremongering and fear-based selling with the false notion that data deprecation will completely upend digital publishing! It’s been a worrying trend to see platforms that publishers rely on for guidance actually take advantage of that, instilling a sense of fear, and panic rather than opportunity.

That rhetoric will probably die down a little now after Google delayed the 3rd party cookie deprecation in Chrome until at least 2023, with many of those fear-mongering players having played their chips early left wondering how they can back track. There’s no doubt that a move away from 3rd party cookies is inevitable, but it should have always been about enabling publishers to maintain control of their audiences within a privacy-compliant environment, not the prospect of losing control that those scare tactics used.

You can read the official release from Google here; or there’s some good initial coverage elsewhere like the Wall Street Journal, and Cafe Media:

“Any future changes to advertising MUST protect the wonderful diversity found in our community and across the internet, where high-quality, original content earns the revenue it deserves!”

Cafe Media

Ultimately Google has decided they “need to move at a responsible pace” to give all stakeholders time to discuss, test and adapt.

“We could feel a collective sigh of relief at this announcement. It’s a welcome acceptance that to rebuild a new and solid foundation for our industry takes time and collaboration with all stakeholders. The consumer and market competition perspective from the regulatory bodies is key to shaping this evolution and leveling the playing field, providing enough time for emerging innovation to prove it’s place in the ecosystem. We get to do it right, rather than quick and we’ll certainly be using the additional time to help our Publisher clients flourish.”

David Snocken, VP Commercial & Strategic Partnerships at Carbon

Whilst 3rd party cookies aren’t available in environments such as Mozilla and Safari, the continued availability in Chrome makes it important for publishers to be able to handle 3rd party data, 1st party data, identity and context all in one place – that’s the future-proof way forward.  3rd party data is still worth the squeeze and Carbon is committed to making it available to publishers where it is compliant and relevant to do so, whilst also providing 1st party data, alternative identity solutions, as well as modelled and contextual options that will provide further scale.

Contextual is more than brand safety

Contextual is obviously a key component of a publishers toolset with-or-without 3rd party cookies, and it’s deservingly been given more exposure over the last year or so.  There’s an interesting piece from AdExchanger on contextual targeting myths which strengthens our position that contextual is much more than just ‘brand safety’.  Done correctly, contextual can provide an intelligent and effective means of scaling audiences.

Carbon’s contextual product uses NLP/contextual modelling processes to extract the meaningful content of an article, which is identified and labelled based on the IAB Tech Lab Content Taxonomy 2.2; as well as our custom nodes, brand nodes and keywords.  Our proprietary algorithms then score data to determine the strength and relevancy of keywords.  As a result, publishers can provide brand safe, contextual targeting to their direct buyers based on granular content insights that can be used in isolation or combined with 1st party behavioural and revenue data, whilst retaining the value of their ad inventory and providing a better user experience.

PubCast with IAB’s Angelina Eng

Carbon’s own Leon Gurevich recently caught up with the IAB’s VP of Measurement & Attribution – Angelina Eng.  Measurement is a critical piece of our RMP; measuring audience performance at impression, site, and content levels to unlock deep audience, context and revenue insights, to optimise performance.

In their fireside chat – check it out here – Angelina shared some insights and advice into possible changes in identity; the impact they may have; and how the industry is adapting. Specifically we dive into some of the challenges around measurement and educating the end users, and how advertisers & publishers can actively approach these changes such as adopting a common taxonomy for a more efficient & effective market.

Other interesting reads

  • Research from Digiday suggests publishers are moving away from platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, as they consider them neither a valuable source of revenue nor an important channel for brand-building.  For instance; whilst nearly 96% use Facebook to post content, only 49% find it ‘valuable’ for driving revenue – and that was the highest out of the 5 platforms measured (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Youtube and Twitter).
  • EU opened formal investigations into Google specifically assessing whether it is guilty of favouring its own adtech services to the detriment of other tech services, advertisers and online publishers.  It’s interesting timing given Google’s recent settlement in France where they committed to improve the interoperability of GAM – so perhaps concessions elsewhere will follow. One to keep an eye on.
  • Globally only 26% of Apple users allow tracking vs 16% in the US, when prompted by the App Tracking Transparency prompt, according to Flurry Analytics.  According to Digiday (using Branch data) it’s beginning to have a more pronounced effect on media spending.

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