Navigating the Shift: Media Buyers' Stance on First-party Data and Cookie Deprecation

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Crux of the Current Debate
  3. Market Responses and Adaptations
  4. Evolving Industry Dynamics
  5. Conclusion


In an era where digital landscape transformations are as constant as they are challenging, the impending cookie deprecation stands out as a particularly pivotal shift. A surprising statistic unveils the core of a growing debate: as traditional third-party cookies crumble, media buyers express significant reservations towards the premiums charged by publishers for first-party data and contextual targeting. This hesitation casts a spotlight on a crucial junction in digital advertising, posing a provocative question: What does the future hold for publisher data valuation amidst the erosion of third-party cookies?

This blog post delves deep into contemporary attitudes toward first-party data procurement and pricing, analyzing recent industry insights and uncovering the complexities of adapting to a post-cookie world. By journeying through the perspectives of media buyers, the strategic adjustments by publishers, and the overarching market dynamics, readers will gain a comprehensive understanding of the evolving digital advertising ecosystem. We'll explore not just the stumbling blocks but also the emerging opportunities that these changes herald for advertisers and publishers alike.

The Crux of the Current Debate

At the heart of the current friction is media buyers' reluctance to accept the increased costs associated with first-party data and contextual targeting solutions proposed by publishers. Despite publishers' endeavors to adjust pricing models to reflect the value of their proprietary audience insights, resistance from media buying fronts persists. A primary concern expressed involves the disparity between the perceived value of first-party data and its actual efficacy in driving campaign performance.

The Price of Precision

Publishers find themselves in a quandary as they seek to monetize their first-party data amidst the phasing out of third-party cookies. Some have opted to introduce premiums on their data, believing in its enhanced accuracy and impact. However, media buyers, cautious of overspending, scrutinize these offerings rigorously. They demand not just compliance and privacy adherence but tangible evidence of the data's effectiveness relative to its cost.

Shifting Strategies

To navigate buyers' skepticism, some publishers are reconsidering their approach, moving away from a cost-per-mille (CPM) emphasis towards positioning their first-party data as a cornerstone for high-impact, targeted campaigns. This shift reflects a deeper understanding of advertisers' varied goals and the intricate balancing act of maximizing ROI while ensuring data privacy and efficacy.

Market Responses and Adaptations

Buyer Skepticism and Demand for Efficacy

Media buyers, like Holly Dunn from Havas, emphasize the critical balance between data costs and media spend. The prevailing sentiment suggests a demand for thorough vetting of data sources, reinforced by a reluctance to agree to significant spending without evidence of proportional performance enhancement.

Publishers' Predicament

Publishers face a dual challenge: proving the worth of their first-party data in an increasingly skeptical market and devising pricing models that accommodate advertisers' hesitations yet ensure revenue. Some publishers report no significant uptick in CPMs from using first-party data, suggesting a need for innovative approaches to demonstrate value and effectiveness uniquely.

Evolving Industry Dynamics

As cookie deprecation accelerates, the industry stands at a crossroads, contemplating alternative solutions and strategies. The dialogue has broadened, incorporating a more holistic view of advertisers' needs, audience targeting precision, and the nuanced value proposition of first-party data. This juncture is not just about finding direct replacements for cookies but reimagining the fundamentals of digital advertising engagement and measurement.

Anticipating Buyer Shifts

The eventual acceptance of publisher data premiums hinges on broader industry trends and the effectiveness of emerging cookieless technologies. Media buyers, adopting a cautious stance, may only pivot towards higher investments in first-party data if proven indispensable for achieving nuanced targeting and engagement objectives.

Winning with Quality and Flexibility

The publishers who will likely emerge successful in this evolving landscape are those offering high-quality, accessible first-party data without imposing restrictive conditions on its use. This approach resonates with the broader industry’s call for flexibility, transparency, and proven effectiveness in data-driven advertising strategies.


As we navigate through the complex dynamics of cookie deprecation and the recalibration of value in first-party data, it's clear that the path forward requires both innovation and collaboration. Publishers must articulate the unique benefits of their data more compellingly, crafting pricing models that reflect its true value and utility. Meanwhile, media buyers will benefit from remaining open to evolving data strategies, critically assessing new propositions for their potential to enhance campaign outcomes. Together, these efforts can forge a digital advertising ecosystem that thrives on trust, efficiency, and mutual benefit in the post-cookie era.

FAQ Section

Q: Why are media buyers hesitant to pay premiums for publishers' first-party data? A: Their hesitation stems from concerns over the data's cost-effectiveness, privacy compliance, and the direct impact on campaign performance. Buyers demand clear proof of value before committing to higher expenses.

Q: How are publishers responding to these challenges? A: Publishers are exploring new pricing models and emphasizing the strategic value of their first-party data for targeted campaigns. They're also investing in tools that enhance the accuracy and impact of their data, although adoption varies.

Q: What is the potential impact of cookie deprecation on first-party data valuation? A: The deprecation of third-party cookies could, in theory, increase the value of robust first-party data sets. However, actual market dynamics will likely depend on the development and acceptance of alternative tracking technologies.

Q: How can the digital advertising ecosystem adapt to these changes? A: Adaptation will require a balanced approach, integrating rigorous data scrutiny with innovative targeting techniques. Success hinges on transparent partnerships between publishers and advertisers, focused on attaining mutual benefits through high-quality data use.

Q: What remains uncertain in the debate over first-party data costs? A: Uncertainties include the evolving expectations of media buyers, the development of new technologies to replace cookies, and how publishers can definitively prove the superior value of their first-party data without resorting to restrictive pricing or usage terms.