On January 13, 2020, Google made a huge announcement: they are officially shutting down third-party cookies over the next two years.
We talk about how much the industry changes every year, but this is different. Sunsetting this technology is a tectonic shift, with massive consequences for advertisers and publishers alike.
It’s going to be a wild ride, but we’re ready to face this new challenge together. We’ve been aggressively planning and strategizing for this for years, so AdThrive will be at the forefront of helping to set the standards of how digital advertising will work in the future.
Cookies and advertising
Cookies were created in the early days of the web as a way to do basic things that we take for granted now, like log in to websites. Over the years, they’ve been used for many purposes far beyond their creators’ initial intentions — including becoming a cornerstone of the digital advertising industry.
Cookies are the main browser technology advertisers and advertising technology firms use to identify users, target them, and measure the performance of their campaigns.
They are a key component to higher advertiser spending and, as a result, higher RPMs for publishers.
However, cookies are relatively older technology and have a number of inherent security and privacy issues. Across the industry, discussions have been happening for a while on how to do away with cookies and/or replace them.
As privacy concerns come to the forefront more and more, everyone is looking for ways to reduce tracking. Regulations like GDPR and CCPA focused on increasing digital privacy, and online browsers have also been making sweeping changes to reduce tracking, largely based around cookies.
The Safari and Firefox browsers have been leading the charge on the “get rid of cookies” bandwagon. Their ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention) and ETP (Enhanced Tracking Prevention) technologies effectively shut down all third-party cookies — and as a result, majorly impact ad revenue from readers using this technology.
Since those changes, we’ve seen advertiser spending on Chrome traffic significantly outstrip Safari and Firefox, but now, that’s changing too.
Getting rid of cookies
With Chrome controlling over 50% of the market, Google’s change will finally do away with third-party cookies, marking a new era in the online world.
Chrome is replacing them with a technology they call the Privacy Sandbox.
The Privacy Sandbox will have features to give advertisers some capabilities for targeting, tracking, and measurement, while increasing security and user privacy significantly.
But these features are radically different from the standards the advertising industry has embraced so far. For the technical or marketing-inclined, the CEO of a partner company of ours, Beeswax, has already written a great article about how this change will impact advertisers.
We’re prepared to see you through this
AdThrive and all of our publishers are already far ahead of the game here, so we’re at the leading edge of this massive industry-wide change.
Building new technology and partnerships
We’re continuing to build new technology to stay at the cutting edge as cookies go away and have already been testing a number of solutions behind the scenes. In early 2019, we released our new ad code base, Nucleus, that lets us adapt quickly and integrate new features.
And our partnerships team is ramping up to build more special relationships with advertising technology companies to make sure that AdThrive publishers are well-positioned for years to come.
We’re confident that our world-class technology platforms and partnerships will help protect AdThrive publishers.
As advertisers change the way they buy, one of the main technologies they will move to is contextual advertising — buying based on the content of the page.
Where others may be scrambling to find contextual solutions, we have a well-oiled machine in place that already allows us to provide this data to advertisers.
We built our own contextual targeting system, Marmalade, almost 2.5 years ago and have been using it since then for all of our direct advertiser relationships. We’ve upgraded it repeatedly and are also augmenting it with a separate contextual targeting system from Oracle — which obviously has some of the best data out there!
Direct advertiser relationships
In a world where user tracking is diminished, one of the best ways to maximize revenue is with direct advertiser relationships.
Our ad sales team has been building relationships with advertisers for over a decade now, telling the story of AdThrive publishers and establishing trust in the quality and reach of the AdThrive community. This team uses our contextual targeting systems to bring new products directly to advertisers.
As advertisers shift their spending, AdThrive publishers will be a big beneficiary.
Setting the industry conversation
As standards change, it’s critical to be involved in the conversations around them.
In the last two years, we’ve joined the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Prebid Organization, and other standard-setting organizations that are controlling and defining the future of digital advertising.
We’ve become very active in those groups and will be pushing forward with more industry leaders, so AdThrive publishers are represented when decisions that affect each of you are being made.
We’ll continue to be vocal advocates for high-quality, independent publishers!
Gathering the best minds to create solutions
We’ve been investing in growing our team rapidly with amazing new talent from some of the most respected companies in the media and advertising technology world. New team members have joined us with extensive industry experience from Pubmatic, Comscore, Kargo, Ask.com/IAC, Scripps, and AOL/Verizon.
We believe our team is the secret ingredient to staying ahead of these major industry trends, and we’re continuing to hire and grow to push even further ahead.
It’s a scary change, but AdThrivers are well-positioned
You can think of this change like a hurricane.
It’s big, slow-moving, and very destructive.
But we’ve been watching this hurricane forming for years and we now have a clear idea of where it is going.
We’ll continue to put the best plans in place for AdThrive publishers — and ultimately, we believe that we can navigate this well so it can even be to your collective advantage.