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Privacy & Identity: 5 minutes with… Pete Wootton

With the deprecation of third party cookies on the horizon, along with ever-tightening privacy legislation, what should publishers be doing to prepare? Pete Wootton is chairing the ‘Privacy & Identity Tech Talk’ at next week’s AOP Publishing Tech Talk event. We grab five minutes with him to find out.

By Pete Wootton

Privacy & Identity: 5 minutes with… Pete Wootton

Q: What imminent challenges do publishers face when it comes to collecting information about their users?

A: The legal framework is getting more and more fragmented globally. This is not just between different countries and regions but also within countries; eg. the tightening of laws within different states in the US. This makes managing the legal basis for collecting, storing and using data complex and difficult to navigate. Additionally, the platforms and technology providers are also continuing to restrict the usage of data – you just need to see the continual updates to Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature to see the impact this can have.

Q: What is the direction of travel when it comes to online privacy and what is the likely endgame?

A: There has been a tightening legal framework in many countries across the world, most notably in Europe. But on top of that, the platforms and technology providers are responding to legal changes and, as they see it, the changing requirements of their customers. We are increasingly heading towards an environment where it is harder to track the behaviour of users and customers, not just in terms of targeted advertising, but also in tracking attribution and conversion as well.

Q: To what extent do these challenges represent an opportunity for publishers?

A: This could be an exciting opportunity for publishers to collect more of the revenue spent on their impressions and remove some of the suppliers who take value out of the marketplace. It could lead to advertisers placing greater value on premium publisher content, especially with the right targeting opportunities being in place.

However, the danger is that one set of intermediaries are simply replaced by another, and the industry just focuses on replacing the cookie with other similar approaches.

There is also some risk around attribution, both to demonstrate value to their advertiser clients and to their own marketing spend as well.

Q: What are smart publishers doing about this now?

A: The important thing is that smart publishers are doing something! Make sure there is an initiative within the business looking at the likely impact of these changes and how it could be mitigated. Audit each area of the business and ask your key suppliers how they will be affected and what their plans are. This in itself can be enlightening as you will want to work with partners who have a good grasp of the issues and who can help you navigate them. Also reach out to your network and engage with trade bodies like the AOP who are creating groups to share ideas and thinking.

Then, in terms of practical steps, they are doing two things.

Firstly, collecting more zero party and first party data. It’s difficult to imagine a scenario where publishers won’t be in a better position if they have more of it.

Secondly, experimenting with solutions – whether that’s improving contextual targeting or looking at clean rooms and ID solutions.

Q: What is the message publishers should be sending to advertisers and agencies about the future desirability of publisher inventory?

A: Premium publishers build quality audiences at scale with powerful targeting capabilities. As a group, we need to continue to develop advertising solutions which meet the legal requirements of each territory, address the privacy concerns of users and customers but continue to drive fantastic value and ROI to advertisers

Q: What are the internal obstacles publishers face in making the necessary changes?

A: As always, there is tension between the business (revenue) requirements in the short vs long term. Carving out time for experimentation, data collection vs page view generation or investing in new capabilities can be hard to get buy-in for. Especially when the date of 3rd party cookie deprecation in Chrome keeps moving out and until that happens, there is minimal revenue upside in these tests for now. Carrying out an audit of how the business will be impacted can be a good start to demonstrate to the business what it could mean.

Q: What are you hoping to take away from the panel discussion?

A: Some practical advice on how to prepare for a cookie less future shaped by what other premium publishers are doing and a further update from Google on how they see privacy developing in the future.

About us

AOP Publishing Tech Talk provides an essential forum for publishers to catch up with the opportunities that new tech solutions are creating to grow audiences, increase revenues, and benefit their business. Over four days of online content and two days of in-person events, publishers will share how they are innovating and leveraging technology to derive the best value from their first party data and audience metrics, to create more engaging user experiences, and to build premium revenues. More information at