First-party segments bring publisher data to the open market

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about how web browsers are changing to protect user privacy. These changes have triggered shifts in how and where advertisements are targeted. As we prepare for the end of third-party cookies (now...

By Paul Bannister

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about how web browsers are changing to protect user privacy. These changes have triggered shifts in how and where advertisements are targeted. As we prepare for the end of third-party cookies (now in 2023), we’re pursuing our four initiatives to make sure that our publishers are able to navigate the changes successfully and come out thriving even better than before.

Today, our advertising technology partner Magnite announced new efforts around third-party cookie replacements. We’ve worked closely with them on this initiative and are excited to share how this affects current publishers. 

3 key takeaways

  • CafeMedia is leading initiatives to connect publisher data to the open market
  • We’re helping drive and standardize industry changes that benefit publishers 
  • If you’re working with CafeMedia, you’re already taking advantage of these new standards 

First-party solutions to a third-party problem

In a future world without third-party cookies, advertisers face the challenge of reaching consumers in innovative ways. With much of the web anonymous, it will be difficult for advertisers to know much about audiences and where to target advertising. To locate their target customers, they need information about the audiences where they advertise.

Publishers, however, tend to know their readers and continually deliver exactly what they’re looking for online. As a representative for our publishers in the ad industry, we want to help take advantage of the full value of publishers’ deep audience knowledge. 

Our sales team includes publishers’ content and audience insights in direct-to-advertiser deals. But so far, publishers across the industry haven’t been able to make this first-party data available in the open market. 

That is all changing. Inspired by two articles from our team in 2020, companies across the industry started working together to make this vision a reality. Today, we’re announcing that the first phases of this initiative have been successful.

New features from CafeMedia and

Our internal Data Science expert, Patrick McCann, has been very involved on the board of, which creates the open-source software that helps publishers manage their programmatic advertising. They are always looking to develop innovative solutions to help publishers generate revenue through advertising.

Until now, publishers sent a small set of information through Prebid to advertisers about ad impressions (e.g., IP address, browser, operating system). The rest of the information came from third-party cookies. With third-party cookies going away, we need to give ad buyers more information to maximize the value of every ad impression. 

As a first step to enable publishers to make first-party data available, Patrick and the team at Prebid have built new features to allow publishers to pass this data to the open market. 

Now, we can attach more helpful information in addition to the basic information that was already available to advertisers around an ad impression. These new features give publishers much more control over what info to share, when to share it, and who to share it with.

Connecting publishers and advertisers across the industry with new standards

With raw data, advertisers need some type of decoding to help decipher what it means and how they can use it. For that, we needed to work across the entire advertising industry (with global advertising agencies, advertising technology firms, and major publishers) to create a compelling proof-of-concept and get buy-in from many parties. 

The Publisher First-Party Segments Initiative, publicly announced today, brought together many of the biggest names in the industry. Alongside our company, you’ll find publishers like Conde Nast, News Corp, Future, Meredith, and Insider, and advertising agencies like Merkle, Havas, and Goodway Group.

As part of the initiative, we’ve partnered with the IAB Tech Lab to use Content Taxonomy to standardize first-party data. This taxonomy provides a standardized format for publishers and advertisers to give shorthand identifiers about a publisher’s content. Taxonomy categories range from very general (Video Games) to the specific (Music and Party Video Games), making them flexible and attractive enough for advertisers to buy ads across the open web and independent publications.

So far, we’ve been the only ad management firm involved in these discussions. Adding our voice to these pillars of the advertising industry, we’re working to maintain a level playing field for publishers, large and small. And it means CafeMedia publishers are already taking advantage of this innovative platform.

CafeMedia and the future of digital advertising

With so many changes happening in the world of digital publishing and advertising, it can be overwhelming trying to keep up.  
We are always here to ensure our publishers’ futures are secure through advocacy and support at every level. Interested in learning how your site could benefit from these new changes? Contact us here.