Research Briefing: Marketers make the shift as Google actually kills the cookie

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In this week’s Digiday+ Research Briefing, we examine how brands are turning to other data sources as Google begins to disable third-party cookies, and we delve into publishers’ revenue expectations and industry predictions for 2024, as seen in recent data from Digiday+ Research.

69% of brands pros are investing in tech to acquire first-party data

Google started to disable third-party cookies for 1% of Chrome users this month, and marketers are faced with shifting their data collection strategies to manage the fallout. Trends over the last few years have included a push for more full funnel marketing efforts, a recognition of the importance of owned channels vs. paid and a need to amp up loyalty programs to continue collecting first-party data.

First-party data is the clear winner among brands when it comes to what exactly will replace the third-party cookie. More than two-thirds of brand professionals (69%) said in Q2 2023 that they were investing in technology to acquire more first-party data, according to a Digiday+ Research survey

Brands are also increasingly partnering with retail media networks (RMNs) thanks to their access to first-party data from customer transactions, loyalty programs, in-store purchases and online browsing behavior. Walmart’s Walmart Connect and Target’s Roundel were marketers’ second and third most-used retail media networks in 2023, according to Digiday+ Research’s CMO Strategies report.

As the most-used RMN after Amazon, Walmart Connect has access to swaths of consumer data that can be used for ad targeting and personalization. Meanwhile, Roundel taps into Target’s first-party customer data across its online site as well as its mobile app, which can be used to trace customer behavior in stores too.

Insights and stats:

  • “Brand demand for this type of data is expected to increase as brands realize the limitations posed by the demise of third-party cookies and privacy regulations. They’ll need to turn to marketing channels that offer data to help with enhanced audience targeting and personalized advertising experiences.” — Maren Kelly, vp of marketing at brand commerce platform PriceSpider
  • Over a third of marketers (38%) said they use retail media advertising, putting it just behind display ads (used by 61% of respondents) and social media (used by 97% of respondents) as a top marketing channel.
  • Grocery store chains are becoming attractive RMN partners thanks to how frequently consumers make purchases there, which gives grocers more data on how their customers shop compared to other retailers. A forthcoming Kroger-Albertsons merger would mean a combined reach of approximately 85 million households, according to the companies — and presumably their associated data.

Read more about RMNs and their first-party data

Digiday+ Research digest

Half of publishers expected revenues to increase in 2023, but only about a third of publishers saw revenue growth in 2023. That’s according to Digiday+ Research surveys of over 100 publisher professionals. Fifty-one percent of publisher pros said in Q4 2022 that they expected 2023 revenues to increase. In reality, just more than a third (36%) said in Q4 2023 their revenues actually turned out to be higher last year than the year before. However, publishers’ 2023 struggles are not stopping them from hoping for a better year in 2024. 

The stats:

  • Half of publishers (50%) said in Q4 2023 that they agreed their companies’ ad revenues will grow in 2024, albeit to varying degrees. Thirty-five percent said they somewhat agreed their ad revenues will grow this year, while 15% said they strongly agreed.
  • Most of the publishers who are hopeful about 2024 revenue growth are exhibiting somewhat of a tempered optimism. Thirty-eight percent of publisher pros said that they think their companies’ 2024 revenues will increase by between 1% and 10%.
  • About a quarter of publisher pros (27%) said they think their revenues will remain about the same in 2024, and only 16% said they expect their revenues to decrease.

Read more about publishers’ 2024 revenue expectations

Although publishers think their own companies’ prospects for 2024 are bright, they feel differently about the media industry as a whole. Nearly two-thirds of publisher professionals (63%) said they agreed that they’re optimistic about their companies’ prospects this year, but just 20% of respondents agreed that they’re optimistic about the media industry’s prospects. This is according to a Digiday+ Research survey of 54 publisher professionals conducted late in Q4 2023. Publishers’ optimism about their companies’ performance isn’t exactly unbridled, though.

The stats:

  • More than half of publisher respondents (56%) said they agreed only somewhat that they’re optimistic about their companies’ prospects for this year, while only 7% agreed strongly that they’re optimistic.
  • The largest share of respondents said they’re just neutral about whether the media industry will have a successful year. Thirty-five percent of publisher pros said that they neither agreed nor disagreed that they’re optimistic about the media industry’s prospects for 2024.

Read more about publishers’ industry projections for 2024

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