As dark as recent Facebook history has become, yesterday was a particularly bleak chapter. The stock of its parent company, Meta, fell by 26.4%, knocking $230 billion off its market value overnight.
The cause? Most analysts agree it’s Apple—specifically, Apple’s new privacy policies, which allows iPhone users to opt-out of being tracked by the apps they use. When Meta’s CFO announced that those policies would cost the company $10 billion in sales in 2022, the stock began to tumble.
At the core of this story is something marketers have been fretting about for years: the end of the third-party cookie regime that has been the be-all-end-all of internet advertising for over a decade, and the fuel to the fire of Facebook’s historic growth. That coming reality has been discussed endlessly on marketing blogs, but as of yesterday, it’s officially front-page news.
Between Apple’s new policies and Google’s looming cookie phase-out, the digital advertising ecosystem is going through its most significant upheaval in years (which, for an industry defined by upheaval, is saying something). Meta’s decline—the biggest one-day retreat in US history—is just the most spectacular symptom of a change that affects thousands of companies all over the country.
So: what’s it all mean for publishers?
For the immediate future, third-party cookies certainly still have value. But publishers who fail to develop a game plan for the coming post-cookie world are setting themselves up for massive trouble down the line. And any post-cookie game plan would be incomplete without a focus on first-party data strategies.
First-party data—data collected directly from your readers, as they read and interact with your content—is just as effective as third-party data when it comes to targeting readers. It also happens to be less invasive, and much cheaper to acquire. And unlike third-party data, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
At OpenWeb, we believe the best route to first-party data is through building a community rooted in healthy conversation––the kinds of vibrant, non-toxic discussions that keep readers coming back. Active communities provide opportunities for better advertising experiences as third-party cookies fade away—and valuable first-party signals about what’s working (and what isn’t) that empower publishers to craft their content accordingly.
This is the basis of a content strategy that readers back more often, and acquiring still more first-party data.
Best-in-class social experiences, re-engagement tools, and identity solutions help publishers build the kinds of communities they need in order to compete in the years ahead. Let Meta’s very bad day be a warning: the post-cookie world is coming for us all. The best thing to do is plan ahead.