Privacy concerns, yes, but let’s look at the Cookie’s good side

Published May 7, 2015   |   

The third party cookies’ obituary has been written again with the recent media flap around Verizon’s use of super cookiesAT&T’s proposed plan to charge consumers separate rates for not tracking their internet behavior, Mozilla’s 2014 announcement that it will by default block third party cookies and fears that other major browser providers will follow.
That is a shame as the demise of the third party cookie will eliminate a democratizing force on the internet and put the already besieged small and mid sized professional publisher at further disadvantage in the publishing and adtech ecosystem.
Why you might ask?
For many small and mid-sized publishers, who lack the footprint to generate large amounts of first-party data, the third-party cookie provides a critical and independent way to understand and monetize reader behavior and improve reader experiences.
Analytics and reporting powered by cookie data provide insights that allow publishers to create and curate the content their engaged readers want to consume. With powerful platforms now on the market, publishers can use those analytics to compare their audience content preferences and audience values across the web.
Publishers work with a near-limitless variety of partners that provide benefit to both reader and publisher.  For example, ShareThis enables readers to easily share site content and provides publishers with analytics about reader sharing across the web.
The third party cookie is currently the enabler of choice for targeted advertising which yields the already revenue challenged small and mid sized professional publisher a higher CPM per impression. Our network, for example, sees CPM’s of 200% and greater for targeted campaigns versus run of network CPM’s.
The small and midsize professional publisher creates niche content that engaged readers seek out. Without the cookie it would be more difficult for publishers to understand and monetize those audiences. Without successful monetization model for the independent publisher we will lose some of the variety of content that makes the web what it is today.
Publisher benefits need to be balanced with the reader benefits and privacy. Consumers deserve quality content, to have their privacy respected and need to be given notice and choice as to when their data is collected and how their data is used.
However all of that great content produced by the small and midsize professional publisher is not free. With paid subscriptions dropping and paywalls having mixed results, many publishers, particularly in small or medium size publications, make a living by delivering targeted advertisements, often enabled by the cookie, alongside their content.
The third party cookie has truly helped to democratize the Internet by enabling independent publishers to be exactly that — independent.
About the author: Keith Fagan is the Senior Vice President & General Manager of Data Solutions at sovrn Holdings, Inc. Keith is a 20-year veteran in multi-channel marketing specializing in business development, sales and sales management, strategic planning and budgeting, customer acquisition and retention, and market analysis. Keith can be reached via email at