Digiday+ Research: Are cookie concerns, MFAs holding back publishers’ digital revenue?

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Publishers are finding the digital landscape to be a complicated one lately, what with the blurring of Google’s phase-out of the third-party cookie and the proliferation of made-for-advertising sites, among other issues. So, believe it or not, many publishers still depend on revenue from traditional channels in addition to digital ones, and fewer publishers get most of their revenue entirely from digital channels than they have in years past.

That’s according to a second-quarter survey of publisher professionals conducted by Digiday+ Research.

Digiday’s survey did find that there has been a big jump in the percentage of publishers who generate the majority of their revenue mostly from digital channels. Forty percent of publisher pros said this year that they depend mostly on digital channels for their revenue, up from 27% in both 2023 and 2022.

Meanwhile, the percentage of publishers who generate the majority of their revenue mostly from traditional channels has fallen. Just 9% of publisher pros told Digiday this year that they get most of their revenue mostly from traditional channels, down from 19% in 2023 and 18% in 2022.

These are stats we can’t ignore.

However, it’s certainly worth noting that the percentage of publishers who depend equally on digital and traditional channels for their revenue has remained steady over the last few years, and that the percentage of those who depend entirely on digital channels has actually fallen slightly.

Slightly less than one-quarter of publisher pros (23%) told Digiday this year that they generate most of their revenue about equally from traditional and digital channels — a percentage that has held steady, with 20% saying the same last year and 25% saying so the year before. At the same time, the percentage of publishers who get their revenue entirely from digital channels fell just below a quarter this year, to 24%. That’s compared with 29% who said the same in 2023 and 28% in 2022.

In other words, despite the dominance of digital channels, many publishers still see the value of traditional channels and aren’t yet ready to tie their business completely to the digital realm.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why that is, but Digiday’s survey data might have some hints, particularly related to the end(?) of the third-party cookie and those troublesome MFA sites.

Let’s look at cookies first. According to Digiday’s survey, the majority of publishers think that cookies will still be around a year from now. Nearly two-thirds of publisher pros (63%) said they believe Google will get rid of third-party cookies in the Chrome browser at some point in Q2 2025 or afterward. In comparison, 17% said they think cookies will be gone either at some point during Q1 of next year or never, while just 4% said they believe cookies will actually go away before the end of the year.

That indicates a lot of uncertainty around a form of measurement that many in the industry depend on when it comes to digital channels.

OK, now onto MFA sites.

MFAs have been the subject of a lot of controversy in the digital advertising space — controversy that muddies the waters of digital channels and controversy that most publishers want to distance themselves from. And, according to Digiday’s survey, publishers feel they are succeeding at the latter, and hope to continue to do so.

More than half of publisher pros (53%) said they disagree that publishers are to blame for the proliferation of MFAs. Only slightly more than a quarter (29%) said they agree that publishers are to blame.

Looking more closely at the data, publishers who said they strongly disagree that publishers are to blame for the proliferation of MFAs accounted for the largest percentage of respondents in Digiday’s survey. Nearly a third of publishers (31%) fell into the “strongly disagree” category. And those who said they somewhat disagree accounted for the second-largest percentage of respondents, with 22% of publishers saying they somewhat disagree publishers are to blame for the proliferation of MFAs.

https://digiday.com/?p=549118

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