Publishers Prioritize First-Party Data

Third party data and cookies are coming to an end, Google announced chrome would be cookie free within two years. Many other internet browsers and companies are following in the removal of third party cookies. Publishers are panicking according to AdExchanger, given that a majority of their revenues usually stem from unknowing visitors to the website leaving these traces of data and then proceeding to sell this data to tracker advertising companies. 

With the looming death of 3rd party tracking and cookies, publishers have turned their attention to first-party data. First-party data is the data collected straight from the source, or people logging in and willingly giving specific information about themselves such as names, birth dates, email addresses, etc. on the publishers site. The issue facing publishers on collecting first-party data is that the users need to be incentivized into signing up or giving this information away. 

A lot of these publishers are part of the “open internet”, or websites that produce free content. Generally these “publisher” websites receive a lot of traffic, but if the traffic is then forced to sign up or log in in order to view anything on the site, that heavily dissuades visitors from joining the community. A 2019 Google study found that average publisher revenue among the top 500 global publishers decreased by 52% when access to third-party cookies was disabled. So what can publishers offer to these users to make them desirable enough to sign up and encourage an exchange of services or data?

Some of the most notable examples of companies who incentivize the transaction of first-party data with the users accepting of the collection of their data are retailers like Amazon and Walmart to transportation providers like Uber and Lyft. All four of these companies need the customer’s personal information in order to deliver on their fundamental value proposition and the customers understand that from the get go.

Social media apps and companies like Facebook and Instagram require this information to connect you to your friends, geotag your posts, and so on. The explanation that these companies need access to the name, email, physical address or other information of a customer is obvious and recognized by customers, and the advantages of staying logged in as an authenticated user are present for all to see.

Media companies such as Verizon, AT&T, or Comcast provide organic reasons for their customers to log in, because their media business is placed within a larger and more tangible network business. Customers provide first-party data because it’s required to access the internet, their cell phones, and their connected televisions. No first-party data, no internet connection, simple as that. 

How can previously free publishers gain access to more users information and first-party data? Employing interactive content can certainly help. Looking or asking users for engagement after reading an article like a quiz, or a quick summary, anything that makes the user feel like they have a personalized experience. There are a lot of different techniques and strategies publishers can employ, but they need to begin the transition now. Third-party data and cookies will be nonexistent in two years. The best piece of advice for publishers is to prepare for tomorrow, today.