Ad tech’s take: early reactions to Google’s third-party cookie demise

Two months into Google’s grand cookie cleanse in Chrome, ad tech vendors are dishing out their hot takes.

For something that was meant to be an apocalyptic event for ad tech, the end of third-party cookies is apparently a win for a lot of vendors — at least according to their recent earnings updates.

Here’s a rundown of the reported notable effects on ad tech companies from their latest quarterly updates.

The Trade Desk’s survival story unfolds

The loss of third-party cookies will surely dent the biggest ad tech vendor’s business. Their executives wouldn’t be making such a fuss over Google’s actions if it wasn’t significant. However, CEO Jeff Green has emphasized repeatedly that their platform processes over 15 million ad impressions per second, with the “vast majority” not reliant on cookies. If this holds true, the impact of the loss of cookies is unlikely to be catastrophic. Interestingly, Green noted during the call that it’s publishers, rather than DSPs like The Trade Desk, facing the brunt of this change. He mentioned that some publishers are experiencing a 30% drop in pricing due to the absence of third-party cookies. On the flip side, the use of The Trade Desk’s alternative to these cookies, Unified ID 2.0, is driving a 30% increase in CPMs for adopting publishers, thanks to improved addressability.

This presents a compelling lifeboat for publishers amidst the storm of cookie deprecation. Perhaps the skeptics were mistaken about The Trade Desk’s life after cookies after all?

Magnite’s high-stakes gamble

The Privacy Sandbox has become a hot potato in ad tech — you’re either all in or all out. Well, Magnite’s definitely tossing its hat into the ring, according to CEO Michael Barrett. It’s waving the flag of full support for this controversial tech. But let’s not sugarcoat it — Barrett admitted that it’s no walk in the park. The Sandbox isn’t a one-size-fits-all replacement for third-party cookies, and it requires a hefty investment in tech to make it work. As Barrett put it, joining the Privacy Sandbox club sets the bar pretty high, thinning out the crowd of SSPs willing to jump on board. It’s like trying to reach the top shelf; it’s tough, and not everyone’s up for the climb.

PubMatic’s sandbox saga

The Privacy Sandbox is like the wild west of ad tech — touchy, unpredictable, and downright rebellious. It’s messing with the very backbone of businesses in the industry. Even so, PubMatic isn’t sweating it. CEO Rajeev Goel made it clear on the call: the ad tech vendor isn’t hitched to this sandbox train. Instead, he said the business has scaled its marketplace around environments without third-party cookies like CTV, commerce media and mobile app. These sectors are rapidly growing and have become a significant portion of PubMatic’s revenue. In fact, the majority of impressions PubMatic sells now come with alternative signals, signaling a shift away from third-party cookies already.

However, let’s not kid ourselves — PubMatic can’t turn a blind eye to the sandbox, especially with Google’s dominant browser market share. That’s why its dipping its toes into testing available parts of it and allocating more resources behind the scenes.

Despite the looming threat of third-party cookies’ demise, Criteo remains unfazed and confident in its future success. With a robust identity graph boasting more hashed emails than competitors and strategic partnerships with key platforms like retailers, Criteo is positioned to thrive in a post-cookie landscape. However, behind this optimistic outlook lies the stark reality: CEO Megan Clarken predicts a challenging year ahead, anticipating a revenue decline of between $30 million to $40 million in the second half of the year. This forecast is contingent on Google’s full removal of third-party cookies in Chrome and the introduction of the Privacy Sandbox by year’s end.

In the ongoing debate over when third-party cookies will actually go away, LiveRamp is firmly on board with their demise by year’s end. During its earnings call, CEO Scott Howe didn’t hold back, urging the industry to ditch these cookies, especially with Google expected to drastically cut them over the summer. Even though Google hasn’t given a clear timeline, LiveRamp is gearing up for major changes and positioning itself to weather the storm. It has spent four years honing its own ID graph, so marketers can still target ads effectively without traditional cookies. Plus, being one of Google’s chosen partners for the cookieless targeting solution PAIR, and acquiring Habu to get one of the biggest data clean rooms, really solidifies its position.

Integral Ad Science: Beyond cookies, serving solutions with a dash of tech and attention

CEO Lisa Utzschneider didn’t spill much tea on third-party cookies during her earnings update, but what she did drop was worth noting. With the impending demise of third-party cookies, she’s banking on Integral Ad Science (IAS) to step up to the plate — utilizing contextual data and attention metrics to fill the gap, or at least patch it up a bit. And speaking of attention, IAS is cooking up a solution, leveraging modeled data and its own tech to tackle that front as well.

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