Digiday+ Research: Nearly two-thirds of publishers think they will lose when the third-party cookie dies

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Publishers have been busy with their first-party-data-focused prep for the end of the third-party cookie. But that doesn’t mean they think they’ll come out on top in the post-cookie era.

In fact, publishers count themselves among those that stand to lose from the end of the cookie, according to a Digiday+ Research survey of more than 70 publisher professionals.

Digiday’s survey found that, overall, publishers do anticipate that they will be the winners when the third-party cookie goes away. But that’s really just a technicality because, in reality, publishers don’t actually think anyone will win.

Twenty-three percent of publisher pros told Digiday in the second quarter of this year that they think publishers will gain a lot or a little from the end of the cookie, compared with 17% who said the same of vendors, 16% who said the same of agencies and 12% who said so of advertisers — all in all, very low percentages for the so-called “winners.”

On the other end of the scale, publishers think pretty much everyone will lose after the cookie goes away. To be exact, 62% of publisher pros said in Q2 that vendors will lose a lot or a little, 63% said agencies will lose a lot or a little, 64% said publishers themselves will lose and 68% said advertisers will lose.

To be fair, Digiday’s survey found that publishers largely think that the loss will be small, rather than large — which is actually a shift from a year ago.

For instance, 47% of publisher pros said in Q2 of this year that they think advertisers will lose a little following the end of the third-party cookie, up from 25% in Q3 of last year. During the same period, the percentage of publishers who said advertisers will lose a lot fell from 48% in Q3 2022 to 21% in Q2 2023.

Other groups saw similar shifts: The percentage of publishers that said vendors will lose a little increased from 29% in Q3 2022 to 41% in Q2 2023, while the percentage that said vendors will lose a lot fell from 44% to 21%. And the percentage who said agencies will lose a little rose from 37% to 46% over the same period, while the percentage of publishers who said agencies will lose a lot fell from 31% to 17%.

Similar to agencies, Digiday’s survey found that publishers think Apple will be the winner among the big tech companies when the third-party cookie goes away, while Meta stands to lose the most.

Fifty-nine percent of publisher pros said in Q2 of this year that Apple will gain a lot or a little from the end of the cookie, with nearly a third (31%) saying the tech giant will gain a lot. Meanwhile, 63% said Meta will lose a lot or a little following the death of the cookie, with 43% saying Meta will lose a lot.

While Google sits in the middle of the big three tech companies, publishers’ attitudes toward the search giant have seen some meaningful shifts in the last year. In Q2 2022, 54% of publisher pros told Digiday they thought Google would gain a lot or a little from the end of the third-party cookie. That percentage fell to 33% by Q3 2022 and held steady at 32% in Q2 of this year. Meanwhile, the percentage of publishers who said Google will lose a lot rose from 9% in Q2 of last year to 24% in Q2 of this year.

Meta has also seen some dramatic shifts in publishers’ attitudes since last year, Digiday’s survey found — and mostly for the worse.

Fifty-five percent of publisher pros told Digiday in Q2 2022 that they thought the social media giant would lose a lot or a little in the wake of the third-party cookie’s end. That percentage jumped to 63% in Q2 2023. And the percentage of publisher pros who said Meta will lose a lot increased significantly last year, from 23% in Q2 2022 to 44% in Q3 2022, and then held steady at 43% in Q2 of this year.

Meanwhile, the percentage of publishers who said Meta will gain a lot or a little from the end of the cookie fell from 38% in Q3 2022 to 20% in Q2 2023. More specifically, the percentage of those who said Meta will gain a little fell from 17% to 10% during the period, and the percentage of publisher pros who said Meta will gain a lot fell from 21% to 10%.

https://digiday.com/?p=506684

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