The Rundown: Publishers scramble to control audience data

It seems like every time publishers start to claw their way back from any inventory blackouts caused by browsers like Safari blocking cookies, they’re hit with a new curveball. Despite being many months after Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Protocol 2.2 update, Apple continues to release updates that tighten any workarounds. That’s meant that rather than stabilizing yields, they still seem to fluctuate and many publishers remain preoccupied with low CPMs, in Europe at least.

“Last month was the most significant difference between Safari [yields] versus Chrome,” said a publishing executive last week. For many, it’s the clamping down on link decoration that has caused recent headaches. Link decoration is a method used for years to pass information from site to site as well as from page to page on the same site. 

It can be used to determine, for instance, the referral source for site visits. Most publishers are exploring new ways to ensure they’re in control of their audience data should any future browser or regulatory curveballs be thrown — and to some, that means not taking first-party data for granted either.

New types of independent tech are surfacing that allow advertisers and publishers to match up first-party data sets in a way that doesn’t compromise data privacy nor jeopardize the control each party has on their own customer data. While in their infancy, these types of developments could help give momentum to publishers achieving more direct relations with advertisers in a way that they’ve been trying to cultivate for some time. But for now, it looks like those publishers that will be the best set up for the future will be those that have found ways to collect direct audience data without relying on either cookie type.

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