U.K. Publishers Confident But Cautious About Post-Cookie World

Publishers in the U.K., asked about their plans for the cookie-less future, rate their confidence levels at 6.5 out of 10, according to new research from the London-based Association of Online Publishers.

Publishers said they are either already collaborating with their peers on alternative data initiatives (20%), discussing collaborating (16%), or are open to the possibility of collaboration (40%).

Imvestment in audience data remains important, according to the research, with 75% of responding publishers working to ensure insights from audience data inform decisions across their organizations -- and investing in tools to achieve this goal. There’s work to do in this area, according to AOP. Only 17% of respondents say their teams are aligned internally around audience data.

The research, called “Digital Publishing: Meeting the Future,” was conducted in January and early February. There were a total of 111 respondents, with 83% publishers, and the rest from industry suppliers. Half the respondents were heads of departments, while a further 17% were at the board level. Half were from B2C media, 25% were B2B, and the rest were a combination of both.



“We already know that publishers have successfully weaned themselves off a sole reliance on advertising and continue to focus on new and alternative revenue streams, which is mirrored in the findings,” said AOP Managing Director Richard Reeves. “The survey also presents a real snapshot into how publishers are feeling in anticipation of the demise of third-party cookies. Confidence levels are broadly optimistic, with publishers realizing that the year ahead heralds a new era.”

But survey respondents are also hedging their bets in a few ways, the report showed. While advertising remains a significant source of revenue, enabling content creation, new revenue streams represent a greater opportunity over the next three years, according to respondents.

Asked to rank their top five priorities, respondents listed development of new revenue streams through product innovation as the most important. Also on the list: data privacy compliance and transparency; recruiting and retaining talent; ensuring a diverse and inclusive workplace; and developing new first-party data strategies.

And when it comes to revenue opportunities, over half (55%) of publishers see subscriptions as the biggest area for growth in the next three years. A third of them cite lead generation. New audio opportunities -- podcasts, or internet radio --  are also ranked high, with 31% seeing it as an area for potential growth. The same number 31%, listed ecommerce as an important revenue driver. Display advertising -- despite digital advertising having its best year ever in 2021 -- came in at the bottom of the list, with just 20%  saying it has the most potential for growth.

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