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Weekly Roundup: Post-Cookie Insights for Publishers, GDPR Impact on Global Businesses, and More

post cookie insights for publishers
“Confidence levels are broadly optimistic, with publishers realising that the year ahead heralds a new era, where they can begin to truly harness their unique understanding of their audiences”

Last Week’s Highlights

AdTech Trends

Are Publishers Prepared for a Post-cookie World?

Association of Online Publishers (AOP) surveyed 111 industry professionals to share post-cookie insights for publishers and advertisers. While publishers’ post-cookie confidence levels are pretty high, submitting a confidence score of 6.5 out of 10, solution providers are not as sure, submitting a confidence score of 4.9 out of 10.

Collaborating with peers seems to be a trending solution amongst publishers to survive the third-party cookie deprecation. 20% of the respondents are already collaborating with peers, with three-quarters open to the idea of collaboration. However, 12% are still unsure if they want to collaborate or not.

“Collaboration is going to be a key factor, and we’re already seeing the value of shared testing and learning through our dedicated working groups.”

– Richard Reeves, Managing Director, AOP (Src)

After third party cookie deprecation

Reference Image Source: PressGazette

Another essential insight includes how first-party data is leveraged to prepare for a post-cookie world. While 65% are focusing on demographics for audience segmentation and identification, 27% have prioritized interest and activities. Despite the fundamental importance of audience data, only 17% have their internal teams aligned to reap benefits, with three-quarters investing in tools and strategies to allow audience data to inform their post-cookie decisions. 

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How Publishers are leveraging insights from their Audience Data?

Reference Image Source: PressGazette

Other publisher priorities that this survey brought to light include transparency and data privacy compliance, developing new revenue streams, product innovation, and, as mentioned above, developing innovative first-party data strategies.

Latest Trends in Online Podcasts

A MediaRadar analysis revealed that podcasts’ advertising revenues grew by 20% YoY in 2021 amongst the top 500 podcasts, i.e., comedy, news, and true crime. Companies purchasing podcast ads grew by 14% YoY, 42% being repeat advertisers. Media and entertainment were the product/service category that remained the highest spender. However, spending levels of these categories decreased from 2020. Tech was another category that saw a 50% YoY increase in spending.

Discussions in the panel The Publishing Show regarding publisher podcasts further revealed that niche topics could become substantial money-making assets for publishers. Examples like DC Thompson, a media company, comfortably churned close to six figures with their specialist podcasts, as well as, The Press & Journal, and The Courier.

GDPR’s Impact on Global Businesses

A recently released report by Vox EU, CEPR (Centre for Economic Policy Research) Policy Portal, has revealed the impacts of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on business performance globally. Examining the profits and sales of various companies across myriad sectors in 61 European countries, this report highlights two key areas in which GDPR has affected businesses. 

Their first insight revealed that companies that targeted EU markets saw a reduction in profits by 8%, whereas sales decreased by 2%. Increasing costs to develop GDPR compliant technology can be attributed to decreasing profits as they reduce profit margins for businesses.

Impact of GDPR on Business

Reference Image Source: VoxEU

The analysis further revealed that GDPR has negatively impacted small-to-medium businesses adversely, while larger companies have remained unaffected. This can be attributed to big tech having the necessary resources to invest in GDPR compliant technology, lobbying, and better positioning in acquiring consent for personal data. As small-to-medium businesses suffered, big tech took the opportunity to consolidate its market share, thereby offsetting the cost of developing GDPR compliant technology.

Major Security Changes in Google Analytics

Amidst lawsuits and changing privacy standards, Google is making major changes with its analytics tool. Universal Analytics (UA), its legacy analytics product, will be discontinued by 2023 to make way for Google Analytics 4 (GA4). 

GA4 will no longer be storing IP address information at all, which was still being stored in anonymized form. This will be replaced by modeled data-driven attribution mechanism and inferred location approximation that logs in a users’ country or market of browsing. While GA4 users still need to specify whether a website visitor is in one country or another, it will help Google wade the tricky waters of privacy-first ad targeting and data collection methods. 

The change will also help Google assuage some of the tension it had to face regarding the USA’s National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance practices brought to light in the EU’s Schrems II lawsuit. Further country-level controls have been introduced in GA4. This will allow GA4 users to fine-tune data collection approaches based on a law’s jurisdiction or the market they are operating in. While Google won’t discard IP addresses outright, GA4 users can expect it to be gone within a year.

Audiences Constantly Look For Ways to Bypass Website Paywalls

Publishers are increasingly choosing subscription models as opposed to an ad revenue model. However, as subscriber-only content rises across the Internet, so is the practice of circumventing such paywalls, making it a matter of concern for publishers and the third-party tech companies providing paywall tools to publishers. Bypassing paywalls is no longer limited to a minority of tech-savvy users. As per Google Trends, search activity related to terms like ‘bypass paywalls” has increased exponentially over the last 12 months. 

Readers are using paywall blocking browser extensions, third-party app loopholes, javascript disabling in web browsers, and scraping data to carry out such content piracy. With mainstream media covering the increasing prices of subscriptions, and ways to cancel recurring subscriptions, such practices are indirectly encouraged. 

While publishers focusing on subscription/freemium models aggressively monitor their paywall systems for weaknesses, the task is harder than expected. It is nearly impossible to quantify the prevalence of paywall circumvention owing to a lack of benchmarking data. Most paywalled content can be accessed by the public, making it vulnerable to piracy. Dynamic paywalls are easy to bypass. Most publishers also do not have the resources to invest in tools to secure their paywalls, while others are shortsightedly turning a blind eye to the problem. 

Publisher’s Strategies

The Weather Company’s Secrets to Building a Subscription Model

In an interview with AdExchanger, The Weather Company’s CEO and IBM Watson Advertising’s GM, Sheri Bachstein, revealed how AI and first-party data have helped them build a lucrative subscription business and sustainably increase ad revenue. She said that The Weather Company’s goal was to balance monetization and content while prioritizing customer satisfaction.

This led to the company reducing the number of in-app ads by 42%. Fewer in-app ads resulted in users accessing information without unnecessary clutter and advertisers having access to premium ad slots, richer formats, and lesser competition to drive its KPIs. Having launched a subscription tier back in 2020, The Weather Company has already amassed a million subscribers and learned that acquisition, especially retention, is key to keeping such a model sustainable.

It ran tests to understand user interests and create the content users are willing to pay for. Having access to IBM Watson Advertising’s AI tools, it has further combined its first-party data to determine users who are most likely to subscribe and most likely to churn. This has allowed the publishers to drive suitable conversations and messaging with such users to get them to subscribe or renew the subscription.

Financial Times’ Brand Lift Strategy

Attempting to monetize branded content profitably, the Financial Times has invested significantly in brand lift measurement by entering into an exclusive partnership with Brand Metrics, an analytics firm. The firm is helping them with brand lift measurement across devices for branded content and display ads. 

“Our advertisers are focusing on brand lift as a success measure. It sits alongside other engagement measures, such as page views and scroll depth, as fundamental to the bedrock of our proposition.”

– Enzo Diliberto, Global Insight Director, Financial Times (Src

A javascript is inserted into the Financial Times’ site. The publisher’s site also has an integration with Google Ad Manager. This enabled Brand Metrics to keep track of exposure that a specific ad campaign experiences. Since Ad Manager generates order IDs for campaigns and remains consistent across multiple partners, Brand Metrics can easily understand campaign performance across multiple partners.

Once users view the sponsored content or an ad, they are served with a one-question survey when they visit the Financial Times’ website. Based on four metrics of awareness, consideration, intent, and preference, the answers to the survey can indicate where the user is in his journey through the marketing funnel. 

The algorithm targets users at different stages of viewing the branded content or ad. The role of campaign exposure in brand lift can be measured by comparing results between users who might have seen the branded content once and those who might have seen it more than once. Since this solution is entirely based on first-party cookies and collects no personally identifiable information, it is privacy-safe and futureproof. 

Moments That Matter

  • The European Commission launches investigation into Google and Meta’s Jedi Blue Project – European Commission
  • FTC set to target deceptive algorithms – Protocol
  • IAB Europe’s CEO says that the future of third-party addressability is uncertain – Digiday
  • Meta sued once again over GDPR violations from 2018 – TechCrunch
Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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