If you ask local media publishers how they feel about Google’s upcoming changes to remove third-party cookies from Chrome, many would say they are working on a plan, but aren’t sure what the impact will be.

While prospective impact to advertising revenue remains full of unknowns, publishers can take steps now to prepare. Industry experts discussed this topic in a session at LMA’s recent Digital Revenue Summit.

Digital Revenue Summit

Fran Wills, chief executive officer of the Local Media Consortium, said since programmatic was introduced, less money has gone back to local publishers because the local media market was disaggregated and difficult to buy at scale.

By the time revenue from an ad buy gets to a local publisher, 49 cents of every dollar has been eaten by the supply chain, Wills said.

“We think that it’s a perfect opportunity for us to all collaborate and figure out a way that we can better take advantage of the programmatic supply chain as local publishers and get more of every dollar that gets spent in that arena,” she said.

Fran Wills

As part of its NewsNext initiative, the LMC developed NewsPass ID, which will allow ad customers to have unique identifiers within the supply chain.

“We think there’s opportunities to increase our revenue throughout that consumer funnel and engagement tiers,” Wills said.

The key strategy for news organizations looking to continue to offer targeted advertising is to do whatever they can to capture more first-party data, said Jeff Burkett, vice president of product for display media at Gannett.

Jeff Burkett

“Learn more about your consumers and read as much as you possibly can. … Find ways to ask them questions. Find ways to get more of that data so that when you do need it, you’re not relying on third parties and in whatever format that is able to be provided,” Burkett said.

Both Wills and Burkett cautioned against relying on any service provider offering to capture more data if you turn over a hashed, or anonymized, email address, because then the publisher is essentially giving away that first-party data.

“The real key part is if you’re letting it benefit them, then we lose our stranglehold on this data. And we’re right back to where we are right now,” Burkett said.

Wills recommended any company that is doing retargeting or audience extension “read the fine print” in the contracts to make sure they aren’t multiyear commitments.

Shawn Riegsecker

Shawn Riegsecker, founder and chief executive officer of Centro, wondered if revenue loss would be as much as some people predicted as a result of cookies going away.

As an example, if $100 was what was spent in a month in the media industry, there would be some money to Google and Facebook and some money to publishers. Even with cookies going away, Riegsecker said he doesn’t believe the total dollars spent will drop as a result.

“The $100 is still going to be spent,” he said.

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