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Digiday+ Research: Who will gain and who will lose when (if?) the third-party cookie goes away?

The header image shows an illustration of a boat in the water with a cookie on the sail.

Across the marketing and media industries, there is endless speculation about what the world without third-party cookies will look like — or, in fact, if that world will ever be a reality.

We’ve already covered that publishers and agencies alike are cynical about whether the third-party cookie will actually ever go away. But in the event that it does, who will benefit from living in a cookieless world (if anyone)?

Digiday+ Research surveyed 132 publisher, agency and brand professionals over the summer to learn more.

Digiday’s survey found that publishers think Apple, Facebook and Google stand to gain the most when the third-party cookie meets its demise: Half of the respondents said Apple will gain a lot or a little from the end of the third-party cookie, 38% said the same of Facebook and 33% said Google will gain. Agency and brand pros agreed on the top three, but the percentages looked very different for this group. Forty-six percent of agency and brand respondents said Apple will gain a lot or a little with the death of the cookie, followed by Google at 33% and Facebook at only 20%.

Interestingly, publisher pros and agency and brand pros disagree about how publishers’ fortunes will shake out once the third-party cookie goes away for good. Only 17% of agency and brand respondents said publishers will gain a lot or a little, but 29% of publishers are optimistic about how they will fare in a cookieless world.

When it came to identifying who will lose when — or if — the end of the third-party cookie comes, respondents to Digiday’s survey revealed that the answer is, essentially, everyone. Publisher respondents said vendors and advertisers will lose the most, with nearly three-quarters (73%) saying those parties will lose a lot or a little with the death of the cookie, followed by agencies, which 68% of publisher respondents said will lose. Meanwhile, 73% of agency and brand respondents said advertisers and publishers will lose a lot or a little, and two-thirds said vendors will lose following the end of the third-party cookie.

But the real story here is how high the percentages are among respondents who think all of these parties will lose following the death of the third-party cookie compared with the percentages of those who think they will gain. Only Apple and Google had fewer than half of respondents to Digiday’s survey say they will lose a lot or a little after the cookie goes away. And it was a close call for Google: 46% of publisher pros said Google will lose with cookie deprecation, and 48% of agency and brand pros said Google will lose.

Digiday’s survey also found that publishers’, agencies’ and brands’ opinions about who will gain and lose from the death of the third-party cookie are dynamic. In fact, they’ve changed even just since the spring — before Google announced the most recent delay of the cookie’s demise. For publisher pros, they’ve shifted course on whether Google itself will gain or lose: In a similar survey conducted by Digiday in the spring, 54% of publisher respondents said Google would gain from the end of the third-party cookie. That percentage was down to 33% this summer. Meanwhile, the percentage of publishers who think Google will lose was up to 46% this summer, compared with 29% in the spring.

Agencies and brands have also changed their opinions on how the end of the third-party cookie will affect Google, Digiday’s surveys found. Only a third of agency and brand respondents said this summer that Google will gain after the cookie is gone, compared with half of the respondents in the spring. And there was a big difference in how agency and brand pros think the most recent delay will affect Facebook: In the spring, 37% of agency and brand respondents said the social media platform will gain from the death of the cookie, compared with only 20% in the summer. Meanwhile, the percentage of respondents who said Facebook will lose rose from 42% in the spring to 64% in the summer.

https://digiday.com/?p=467681
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