The move from third-party cookies to publishers and first-party data.

By Claire Jaffee, Media Planner

With Google set to phase out third-party cookies over the next few years and behavioral targeting becoming more limited, advertisers will need to consider alternative sources of data to reach consumers.

While we wave goodbye to third-party cookies, first-party data from individual sites is an avenue that advertisers will have to travel by fostering relationships with partners that have rich data pools such as large publishers.

Publishers as data providers

Data and print publications haven’t been in the same sentence in the past; however, as the publishing industry has become more digital, their access to data has increased significantly.

Opt-in subscribers: Publishers have subscriber data gathered from sources like website registrations, newsletters and other email communications, as well as those who opt-in to third-party advertiser communication.

  • Benefit to advertisers: This can be a very opportune way to target even the most granular audiences. For example, partnering with trade publications to reach low scale, but valuable, audiences that we know have an interest in a brand.

Readership profiles: Many publishers will survey their subscriber base annually to develop their readership profiles. These profiles categorize readers by demographic, geography, job title, and company size information.

  • Benefit to advertisers: Publishers can slice and filter their audiences into different targeting pools to help advertisers best reach their ideal target.

A C-K example

One of C-K’s clients is a member of the outdoor power equipment industry, targeting landscape professionals—a very niche target. It can be nearly impossible to distinguish between a landscape professional and a consumer in-market for outdoor power equipment, as their online behaviors are nearly identical.

Because trade publications are almost exclusively read by professionals, we leveraged their subscriber list to reach our target. We partnered with different trade publications to send branded email blasts to targeted subsets of their subscriber lists and, through survey data these partners collected on their readers, we were able to target subscribers matching the exact occupations and job titles to whom our messaging was most relevant.

As an added bonus of the partnership, we were able to capitalize on each partners’ expertise in the trade to determine optimal flighting based on seasonality of the market, as well as the best day and time of the week to send our email blasts.

From cookies to publishers

As the marketplace loses its ability to leverage some data-targeting tactics, the role of publishers within the media mix will change. Developing partnerships with relevant publications can provide advertisers with unique opportunities to:

  • Reach a niche audience
  • Target the most relevant audience for your campaign
  • Align messaging with relevant context
  • Leverage publisher expertise to increase effectiveness of the campaign




Hubspot, “The Death of the Third-Party Cookie: What Marketers Need to Know”

Focal Point, “The Impact of the CCPA’s Do Not Sell Rule on Digital Advertising”



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