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Publishers and Media Sales Houses: Navigating regulations and building solutions for today and tomorrow

Publishers and Media Sales Houses: Navigating regulations and building solutions for today and tomorrow

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mediarithmics Team
March 21, 2022

Publishers and Media Sales Houses: Navigating regulations and building solutions for today and tomorrow

Google and Facebook in particular have drastically reduced ad revenue for publishers and their grip on the industry has been gaining strength for a number of years due to their incomparable audience sizes and rich audience databases. Facebook’s stronghold is particularly damaging to news publishers as the social media platform essentially operates like a news outlet themselves. Furthermore, Google’s announcement that they will no longer support third-party cookies from January 2022 will only make it harder for publishers to drive revenue through advertising.

The regulation revolution

During recent years, various regulations have been put in place across the globe to reduce the GAFA’s stronghold on the digital advertising industry and move towards a world where publishers compete on an even playing field.

In 2018, the European commission estimated that by strategically locating offices in countries with low tax rates, digital businesses were paying an effective average tax rate of only 9.5%, compared with 23.2% for bricks-and-mortar firms. This led to the commission calling for changes to tax regulations - discussions around this are ongoing.

In 2019, US politician Elizabeth Warren criticised Facebook over their decision to take down her post while continuing to allow Donald Trump to run false ads. Her rallying cry was that social media marketplaces should not be dominated by a single censor. Facebook’s response was essentially to liken itself to a broadcaster – inadvertently asking to be regulated.

In 2021 we have already seen two further major developments in regulation. Firstly, the L’Alliance de la Presse d’Information Générale (APIG), which represents the interests of around 300 political and general information press titles in France, and Google have reached an agreement over Google’s payment for the reuse of content. The unprecedented framework of the agreement establishes how Google will negotiate individual licensing agreements with IPG certified publishers within APIG’s membership, while reflecting the principles of the law. For many in the industry the act has come as a surprise and is viewed as highly exceptional. Secondly, in Australia, Google is currently at loggerheads with the Government on how they remunerate publishers for news related content.

If and when these legislations are passed there will be a clear precedent upon which other Governments could follow suit, especially in the UK, Germany and other European markets where many publishers are struggling to survive. Furthermore, it’s more than likely that additional regulations will be applicable to Facebook too.

How can publishers future proof their business

While additional regulations will certainly help protect publishers, they’re not put in place overnight and there is no guarantee that they will come into effect. For publishers to future-proof their businesses they need to act now and take control of their inventory, data, supply and demand paths, and technology partnerships. It’s this control that will enable publishers to ensure maximum efficiency and revenue, and compete with the GAFA. It may seem like a daunting task but it can be broken down into four key components.

Invest in next generation technology

Just as many of the media selling and buying tactics that were used a few years ago are now outdated so are many technology platforms that have not invested in developing new solutions for today’s advertising ecosystem. Recently built technology platforms benefit publishers and brands by giving them access to the latest technology, such as EDGE computing.

This opens up the possibility of capturing, storing, and analysing unprecedented amounts of data in real-time, with the publisher in total control. When a publisher has this data at their fingertips, they are able to make better decisions as to how to package and price inventory thus maximising revenue.

Implement robust contextual targeting

The rise of programmatic advertising led to contextual targeting being brushed off as a dated strategy. The reality is, everyone will have to develop new contextual targeting strategies - soon. With a cookie-less internet rapidly becoming a reality, some publishers and brands are procrastinating because they're focused on the short-term bottom line.

Modern contextual targeting is uniquely positioned to offer a richer portrait of customers when combined with first-party data. The intelligence offered by contextual targeting is based directly on the text, photos and videos already on the page of content being consumed, thus publishers are again in control. Furthermore, with increasing numbers of consumers opting to subscribe to publisher sites, there is a plethora of first-party data to be overlaid in order to augment straightforward contextual targeting. While it’s possible for smaller publishers to do this themselves, larger publishers will be best placed if they partner with reliable data management and customer data platforms.


Over the past few years initiatives such as Alliance Gravity Data Media have proven that second-party data alliances provide a route to scale at a level that enables member publishers to compete with the GAFA. Responsibly sourced, up-to-date, cross-publisher data, housed in a trusted, accessible ecosystem enables publishers to share data in a compliant way and benefit from cross-publisher learnings in order to secure ad spend. Today, second-party data alliances are potentially the only way that media buyers can identify synergies and create premium media buys at a significant scale while maintaining precision targeting.

Know your audience

Identification solutions such as ID5 and The Trade Desk offer independent, shared identity infrastructure for ad tech platforms and premium publishers. These universal IDs enable user-level identification without relying on third-party cookies which in turn improves match rates and increases programmatic revenue. Built with a privacy-first approach, ID solutions enforce consumers’ and publishers’ choices and ensures that consumers’ data is only shared with approved vendors. Furthermore, the biggest players in this space reach upwards of 400 million consumers globally per day - a number which is growing rapidly.

As a conclusion

While the regulatory world may seem complicated and restrictive, the reality is that the technology publishers need to secure a successful future is here today. With the right partnerships, publishers can thrive in today’s world and the future. If the past year has taught us nothing else it’s that trying to predict the future is pointless, but by paying attention to what is certain and what is happening now the digital publishing industry has a lot to gain.

If you would like to discuss how you can future proof and protect your business by leveraging a leading data marketing infrastructure which delivers multiple solutions including second-party alliances, contextual targeting and partnerships with the leading Universal ID providers, please get in touch with

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