Media owners’ future in the post-cookie world

Mike Woosley
By Mike Woosley | 14 April 2021

Mike Woosley is chief operating officer at Lotame.

Media owners may feel like their cups are half empty. Admittedly, it’s a tough business to be in today. But change means opportunity; and we’re in the middle of a “Great Reset” according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Like all of us in the industry, media owners don’t want to predict the future and they don’t want to make directional bets that could leave their business over a barrel.

You don’t need a Magic 8-Ball, however, to see that media owners have a wealth of choices today. Upheaval driven by the deprecation of a decades-old technology (cookies), a global pandemic, and new regulation focused on consumer consent and transparency has excited a tremendous amount of innovation in our industry. Tools for media owners are rapidly becoming more agile, more privacy forward, and more robust and effective.

In cookie-blocking environments, you can target in context. You can target in real time. You can target on first impression. You can target across devices, sequentially, with managed frequency, with your own first-party data, with second-party data, with enriched data. Enriched data combines first-party data with other information from reputable sources to create an accurate and detailed customer profile.

Diversification is key for media owners. Marketers want and need options. Context is a fine option to realize the value of your great content, but it’s not the only lever you can pull, nor should it be. Contextual comes with its own challenges and marketers agree. In fact, two-thirds of marketers are not confident that contextual targeting alone is a sufficient replacement for audience targeting. That’s a significant percentage of paying customers looking for alternatives. 

Marketers are looking to you, media owners, for those alternative solutions. Are you comfortable putting only one option on the menu that appeals to only some of your customers? 

No one said change would be easy, but media owners have the tools and partners available today to compete. Google is only part of the story — don’t let them be the only story. The Chrome browser is important, but when you zoom out, there are multiple browsers in common use; tablets and phones that are proliferating in the billions; connected televisions, and a vast proliferation of connected devices, spanning the globe. There’s a prodigious open web opportunity up for grabs, hungry for your content, and willing to pay good money for what’s on the menu. 

Google may not embrace identity within its walls (except on its own account, of course) but identity solutions are plentiful across the open web. The walled giant may try to woo you with dumbed down tools, but you can be sure for their own marketer clients they’ll be surfacing all the sophistication attendant to the rich wealth of data that they have. Don’t force your buyers to reprogram dollars to those walled gardens. (P.S. Enriched data can still be activated via Deal IDs, even in Google.)

Fill your cup up with solutions designed for you. From deterministic to probabilistic and everywhere in between, there are smart people working hard to ensure your content, your employees, your business can gain an advantage. So, give them a chance to show you what your menu could look like. Authenticated solutions (deterministic) will help you drive your known customers to repeat purchases. Probabilistic will fill the funnel with the other 80-90% of customers that you don’t know or can’t recognize. New privacy regulations are driving better tools for consent and transparency — not the reverse. You’ll be surprised how motivating consumer privacy is for many in the industry — we’re consumers too, after all. This is the golden hour to test, and test, and test, and test again. It will get easier with each test and iteration. 

The current climate may seem rough and complex, full of new regulation and uncertain tech modes; however your cup can run over. There is an extensive buffet of partners and technology that can make identity frictionless in a regulated world, so you can focus on results and not painful implementations. Have your cake, and your pie, and make room for more!

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