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Thriving in a privacy-centric ad sales ecosystem

Lessons from conversations with leading European publishers and broadcasters

Building on its research on data maturity, Deloitte has produced a report that examines how publishers and broadcasters are preparing for a more privacy-centric ad sales future.

Online users have become increasingly aware of the importance of privacy and the use and value of the data they share online. According to Deloitte research, 81% of consumers reported taking some action due to data privacy concerns in the past year, while Google & Euroconsumers research reports that 69% say the amount of personal data collected online makes it difficult for them to protect their privacy. Driven by these concerns, recent regulatory change and announcements by leading platforms aiming to protect customer privacy, publishers and broadcasters (together “publishers”) have spent the last few years preparing for a more private internet.

In line with its other efforts to bring together the broader web community to design and implement new privacy-preserving technology, without compromising the vitality and sustainability of the open web, Google commissioned Deloitte to produce a research report to better understand how publishers can thrive in a privacy-centric digital ad sales ecosystem. Based on conversations, surveys and roundtables with 30 of Europe’s leading publishers, this report aims to:

  • Provide a high-level overview of recent privacy-related changes and their impact on publishers
  • Share lessons from leading publishers on how to achieve ad sales success in an increasingly privacy-centric digital ad sales ecosystem
  • Provide a framework to help publishers define their strategy at this time of great uncertainty
  • Look ahead to what the future might hold

Though commissioned by Google, this research was conducted independently by Deloitte. Findings were discussed with Google executives prior to publication but all conversations were kept strictly confidential and Deloitte is responsible for the analysis and conclusions from the study.

Key Findings

  • Failure to find replacement solutions to third-party cookies could lead to a drop of up to 2/3 in yield on open-market programmatic trading
  • Thankfully, publishers mentioned that, whether through trials or long-term experience, they had evidence proving that existing solutions based on first-party data, collected through a publisher’s direct relationship with its users, could mitigate most of this impact
  • Free of the shortcomings of third-party cookies, first-party data can serve as the foundation of all key digital publisher activities in a privacy-centric era: editorial, commercial and general management
  • To help accelerate value creation from the use of first-party data, publishers stressed the importance of developing the right mindset, capabilities and approach before building data maturity and commercial sophistication
  • Though it must be noted that our research focused on leaders in the market with the ability to invest in such solutions, this finding is hugely encouraging and should serve as a catalyst for investment
  • Overall business strategy, objectives and context should drive where each company chooses to focus this investment
  • At the same time, two major factors stand out in determining the suitability of a particular strategy:

    1. The sophistication of a publisher’s data and digital ad sales capabilities
    2. A publisher’s ability to compete at scale
  • Four paths to success emerged from this framework, with publishers sometimes combining multiple approaches to maximise value creation and hedge against uncertainty:

    1. Leverage third-party tools
    2. Pool resources and capabilities
    3. Go it alone
    4. Become a platform
  • Regardless of strategy, publishers seem to look at the future with optimism based on a belief that innovation and collaboration will allow targeted advertising to adapt to a growing regulatory focus on privacy

Access the executive summary of the report here

Access the full report here

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