In this week’s Media Briefing, media editor Kayleigh Barber checks in on publishers’ post-cookie preparations.
The key hits:
- The New York Times is taking a “conservative” approach to assessing potential solutions to the third-party cookie exit.
- The Atlantic is “fully prepared” for the demise of the third-party cookie and has not opted into any data consortium.
- Daily Mail is expecting to use a mix of solutions and has already seen a 69% increase in programmatic revenue from Q4 2021 to Q1 2022 after starting to use a probabilistic data alternative to third-party cookies.
A little more than a year before Google officially starts to phase out third-party cookies in its Chrome browser — unless it delays yet again — publishers are facing the approaching deadline amid an unsettled ad tech and privacy landscape.
The publishers most confident in their post-cookie preparations seem to be the ones going it alone. But not all media companies, particularly those without a strong subscription business or shallower first-party data set, are awarded that luxury. And those latter publishers are feeling less prepared at this point.
The Atlantic and The New York Times are two publishers sitting relatively pretty thanks to their respective subscription businesses and the corresponding first-party data sets those businesses provide.
“We are fully prepared for the cookie apocalypse,” The Atlantic CEO Nick Thompson told Digiday a couple weeks ago. “We have a strong, cohesive, well-organized plan to transition to first-party data that emcompasses our live events, our advertising, our consumer business and our data science team.”
The New York Times, too, seems very secure in the ability its first-party data has in driving its advertising business forward. The publisher has even taken a hard stance against vendors trying to swoop in and take some of the share of the market that media companies are in position to control with their datasets in a post third-party cookie internet.
“We have a saying, ‘What happens on The Times stays on The Times,’” said Lisa Howard, global head of advertising at The New York Times. “We’ve been on this little exploration of our own proprietary data products and I think we’re bucking the trend a little bit there in that we don’t work with any third-party partners on the ad targeting side. We’re building it all ourselves.”
But other publishers are seeking strength in numbers.
The third-party cookies’ removal from all major browsers may benefit publishers by making advertisers more reliant on their audience data for targeting purposes. But given the choppy waters of the current ad tech and privacy seascape as well as the scale challenge of clean rooms as a post-cookie solution, publishers without big enough data boats could benefit from being part of an industry-wide armada.
“Industry standards should be adopted as much as possible,” said Jeremy Gan, svp of revenue operations at Daily Mail. “Publishers with resources should band together and compare notes openly in terms of what is working and what is not” when it comes to available solutions.
The safe harbor of in-house solutions
Some publishers are faithfully keeping to the confines of their own first-party data and hoping that that will be enough to sustain a successful programmatic advertising business in a cookie-less future.
While The Atlantic does work with one outside vendor, revenue management platform Carbon, “we have not joined any sort of consortium of data collection across other media brands,” Thompson said.
In last week’s Media Briefing, I spoke with Thompson about the survey strategy his team was taking to collect first-party data from subscribers and newsletter readers that was focused not on geographical information and identity, but on people’s jobs and interests. “It’s one of the top priorities of the company right now,” he said, because the segments of readers drawn from this data are valuable for advertisers looking for the brand association with The Atlantic name.
The Times is investing in producing proprietary tech, but mainly this is due to not finding an existing solution that’s appealing enough to incorporate into its advertising business.
“We haven’t seen anything that we have fallen in love with and are getting behind at this moment. But we’re watching, and I think it is going to take a little time for people to figure out what works,” said Howard.
The holding pattern of potential privacy regulation
At The Times, Howard is also keeping privacy and regulations top of mind, which has led to a very “conservative” approach in how much data is collected and the means by which it is collected.
“There’s a lot that we could do, legislation aside. There is still a lot that we could do to track people, whether it’s allowing for pixels, or tracking people from site to site, whatever, [but] we choose not to do that at the Times, because we’re really trying to be on the right side of this thing,” she said.
The reality that more privacy regulations, like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act, will get passed in the coming months is what’s keeping Daily Mail’s Gan from claiming as much confidence in his publication’s preparedness level, compared to his counterparts at The Times and The Atlantic.
“We don’t know what the privacy regulation landscape will look like in 12 to 15 months, so that’s a huge factor and that determines the type of solution that publishers would eventually invest in and buy into,” he said.
Bridging the gap with probabilistic data
The third-party cookie’s demise is splitting publishers into haves and have-nots: Those who have first-party data, and those who have not yet accumulated enough first-party data. “The goal for every publisher [will] eventually be deterministic, [which] is creating that one-to-one relationship with the end reader. But the reality is that not every publisher can do that [right now],” said Gan.
In the interim, since last September Daily Mail has been using 33Across’s Lexicon technology that uses probabilistic data collected from about 800,000 websites to predict audience behavior. This helped the publisher better understand the 65% of Daily Mail’s audience that visit its site using cookieless browsers — such as Apple’s Safari, which is a top browser among audiences coming in from mobile devices.
From this, Daily Mail’s programmatic revenue increased by 69% from the fourth quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022, according to the company. Gan declined to share hard revenue figures.
But 33Across’ Lexicon technology is only one piece of Daily Mail’s cookie apocalypse preparedness plan, and there are some solutions in the market that are more appealing to Gan’s team than others from a success standpoint, he said. The nature of the publication is going to put limits on which solutions he gets behind, however.
Gan used Daily Mail’s breaking news coverage as an example because putting important news behind a paywall and growing a subscription base is “quite difficult,” he said.
Data clean rooms might cause more confusion than comfort
One of the larger frustrations voiced by publishers at the Digiday Publishing Summit in Vail, Colo., in March was that there were too many data clean rooms to make publisher participation sustainable and worth the hassle.
“Maybe clean rooms are the solution — everybody’s talking about them — but I don’t know yet,” said Howard. “You can have better performance on the contextual side and so the question is not, ‘What is the bare minimum that we have to do in order to get by and not get our hand slapped?’ It’s more than that. It’s about what is actually working and what do we need to do just to get the performance?”
Gan agreed that it doesn’t appear clean rooms will be the solution for all publishers, especially those without a subscription or membership business in place.
“There are some publishers that are great at acquiring subscribers and that will allow them the opportunity to try solutions, such as clean rooms, because clean rooms require that log-in and that [personally identifiable information], which would then create that handshake with the end advertiser,” said Gan. “But if I don’t have enough PII, then it’s kind of worthless, right? I can’t take an email address and go and try and match with an advertiser in a clean room.” — Kayleigh Barber
What we’ve heard
“If someone is going to convert, it takes about four months to go from Daily Brief reader to becoming a member.”
BuzzFeed Inc.’s upfront presentation gets more Complex
In its first upfront presentation since acquiring Complex Networks last year, BuzzFeed Inc. revealed how it is folding the publisher into its pitch to advertisers. BuzzFeed’s presentation was held at The Times Center inside The New York Times’ building on Wednesday, April 27 — a week before this year’s four-day NewFronts event held by the Interactive Advertising Bureau kicks off on May 2. — Sara Guaglione
The key details:
- The Lighthouse first-party data solution now includes data from Complex Networks.
- A new festival is coming this fall, featuring BuzzFeed Inc.’s food verticals, including Complex’s First We Feast.
- BuzzFeed’s creators program is now called Catalyst and includes the roster of creators and talent at both BuzzFeed and Complex Networks.
- BuzzFeed will offer a new branded vertical video ad product for social platforms.
Other announcements at BuzzFeed’s upfront included a new home vertical for Tasty coming this summer; the relaunch of HuffPost Voices; and a new BuzzFeed News award for Gen Z leaders in areas of sustainability, activism, innovation and business, called “19 Under 20.”
BuzzFeed’s suite of data products now also provides advertisers with first-party data from Complex Networks’ verticals. While advertisers had access to data from BuzzFeed and HuffPost, within the last week data from Complex Networks has been integrated into Lighthouse’s tools, meaning it now includes audience data from more than 125 million “food lovers, sneaker heads, young parents, luxury shoppers – you name it,” BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said during the presentation.
BuzzFeed Inc. is combining BuzzFeed’s food vertical Tasty and Complex’s First We Feast for a live event called “Eat Your Feed Festival.” The event, which is scheduled to take place this fall, will be a “traveling food experience,” where attendees can “watch their favorite shows in person” and meet creators, said Hannah Bricker, gm of Tasty & lifestyle at BuzzFeed.
BuzzFeed’s creators program, which currently features more than 100 creators, is now called Catalyst and incorporates creators and talent from Complex Networks. The program helps creators secure branded video deals, sell ads programmatically against their videos and generate affiliate marketing revenue. The company’s goal is to double the size of BuzzFeed Inc.’s creator network this year.
The new branded video product is an evolution of a previous one called BuzzCuts, which cut down brands’ videos and optimized it for platforms like YouTube. For Upshots, BuzzFeed will produce vertical videos for brands designed to run organically on platforms including TikTok, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. Any advertiser will be able to pay BuzzFeed to produce these videos.
Numbers to know
$8.2 billion: How much ad revenue Google generated from selling ads across its network of third-party sites and apps in the first quarter of 2022.
>150: Number of employees working on The New York Times’ Opinion section, which has doubled in size since 2015.
$44 billion: How much money Elon Musk has agreed to pay to acquire Twitter.
What we’ve covered
How Apartment Therapy is using commerce to link the virtual and in-person elements of its hybrid Small/Cool event:
- 3,000 people attended the in-person event in its first weekend.
- Apartment Therapy makes money from the event through a mix of sponsorships and commissions from sales.
Read more about Apartment Therapy here.
How Twitch streamer Blizzb3ar quit his job to become a full-time creator:
- During the pandemic, Blizzb3ar started more seriously live-streaming on the Amazon-owned video platform while working a day job for military contractor British Aerospace Engineering Systems.
- The Digiday Podcast interview with Blizzb3ar is the third installment in a four-part series focused on creators.
Listen to the latest Digiday Podcast here.
What happens when the monetary appeal of publishers’ NFTs isn’t enough?:
- The secondary resale market for Forbes’ recent NFT drop hasn’t been robust.
- There has been a slowdown in the broader NFT market.
Read more about publishers’ NFTs here.
Publishers seek reader payments without the pressure of a paywall:
- Quartz has joined Vox and The Guardian in moving to a non-paywalled membership model.
- Vox has grown its number of contributors by 40% over the past year.
Read more about publishers’ non-paywall approaches here.
Inside the relaunch of The Economist’s subscription mobile app:
- For $7.99 a month, The Economist’s Espresso app offers a selection of the publication’s output.
- The app averaged around 200,000 active users per week prior to the March relaunch.
Read more about The Economist here.
What we’re reading
Congress inches towards federal privacy law:
As seems to happen at least once a year, members of Congress are talking about passing a federal privacy law that would rein in companies’ collection and use of people’s personal information and could preempt state privacy laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act, according to The Wall Street Journal.
BuzzFeed sues to block employees’ IPO-related legal action:
After BuzzFeed employees filed claims against the publisher for allegedly misguiding them on how to sell shares in last year’s IPO, BuzzFeed has filed its own lawsuit in an effort to block the claims’ arbitration, according to Bloomberg.
The conflict between media company IPOs and editorial investments:
BuzzFeed’s stock market debut and subsequent culling of its newsroom offers a case study for the concern that, as digital media companies look to go public, the public investor scrutiny will pressure the publishers into downsizing their editorial operations, according to Nieman Lab.
AMD CEO says 5-nm Zen 4 processors coming this fall
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Advanced Micro Devices revealed its 5-nanometer Zen 4 processor architecture today at the Computex 2022 event in Taiwan.
The new AMD Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors with Zen 4 cores will be coming this fall, said Lisa Su, CEO of AMD, in a keynote speech.
Su said the new processors with Zen 4 architecture will deliver a significant increase in performance upon their launch in the fall of 2022. Additionally, Su highlighted the strong growth and momentum for AMD in the mobile market as 70 of the more than 200 expected ultrathin, gaming and commercial notebook designs powered by Ryzen 6000 Series processors have been launched or announced to-date.
In addition, other AMD executives announced the newest addition to the Ryzen Mobile lineup, “Mendocino;” the newest AMD smart technology, SmartAccess Storage; and more details of the new AM5 platform, including support from leading motherboard manufacturers.
“At Computex 2022 we highlighted growing adoption of AMD in ultrathin, gaming, and commercial notebooks from the leading PC providers based on the leadership performance and battery life of our Ryzen 6000 series mobile processors,” said Su. “With our upcoming AMD Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors, we will bring even more leadership to the desktop market with our next-generation 5-nm Zen 4 architecture and provide an unparalleled, high-
performance computing experience for gamers and creators.”
AMD Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors
The new Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processors will double the amount of L2 cache per core, feature higher clock speeds, and are projected to provide greater than 15% uplift in single-thread performance versus the prior generation, for a better desktop PC experience.
During the keynote, a pre-production Ryzen 7000 Series desktop processor was demonstrated running at 5.5 GHz clock speed throughout AAA game play. The same processor was also demonstrated performing more than 30% faster than an Intel Core i9 12900K in a Blender multi-threaded rendering workload.
In addition to new “Zen 4” compute dies, the Ryzen 7000 series features an all-new 6nm I/O die. The new I/O die includes AMD RDNA 2-based graphics engine, a new low-power architecture adopted from AMD Ryzen mobile processors, support for the latest memory and connectivity technologies like DDR5 and PCI Express 5.0, and support for up to four displays.
AMD Socket AM5 Platform
The new AMD Socket AM5 platform provides advanced connectivity for our most demanding enthusiasts. This new socket features a 1718-pin LGA design with support for up to 170W TDP processors, dual-channel DDR5 memory, and new SVI3 power infrastructure for leading all-core performance with our Ryzen 7000 Series processors. AMD Socket AM5 features the most PCIe 5.0 lanes in the industry with up to 24 lanes, making it our fastest, largest, and most expansive desktop platform with support for the next-generation and beyond class of storage and graphics cards.
And AMD said the “Mendocino” processors will offer great everyday performance and are expected to be priced from $400 to $700.
Featuring “Zen 2” cores and RDNA 2 architecture-based graphics, the processors are designed to deliver the best battery life and performance in the price band so users can get the most out of their laptop at an attractive price.
The first systems featuring the new “Mendocino” processors will be available from computer partners in Q4 2022.
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AMD’s Ryzen 7000 desktop chips are coming this fall with 5nm Zen 4 cores
AMD’s upcoming Ryzen 7000 chips will mark another major milestone for the company: they’ll be the first desktop processors running 5 nanometer cores. During her Computex keynote presentation today, AMD CEO Lisa Su confirmed that Ryzen 7000 chips will launch this fall. Under the hood, they’ll feature dual 5nm Zen 4 cores, as well as a redesigned 6nm I/O core (which includes RDNA2 graphics, DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 controllers and a low-power architecture). Earlier this month, the company teased its plans for high-end “Dragon Range” Ryzen 7000 laptop chips, which are expected to launch in 2023.
Since this is just a Computex glimpse, AMD isn’t giving us many other details about the Ryzen 7000 yet. The company says it will offer a 15 percent performance jump in Cinebench’s single-threaded benchmark compared to the Ryzen 5950X. Still, it’d be more interesting to hear about multi-threaded performance, especially given the progress Intel has made with its 12th-gen CPUs. You can expect 1MB of L2 cache per core, as well as maximum boost speeds beyond 5GHz and better hardware acceleration for AI tasks.
AMD is also debuting Socket AM5 motherboards alongside its new flagship processor. The company is moving towards a 1718-pin LGA socket, but it will still support AM4 coolers. That’s a big deal if you’ve already invested a ton into your cooling setup. The new motherboards will offer up to 24 channels of PCIe 5.0 split across storage and graphics, up to 14 USB SuperSpeed ports running at 20 Gbps, and up to 4 HDMI 2.1 and DisplayPort 2 ports. You’ll find them in three different flavors: B650 for mainstream systems, X650 for enthusiasts who want PCIe 5.0 for storage and graphics and X650 Extreme for the most demanding folks.
Given that Intel still won’t have a 7nm desktop chip until next year (barring any additional delays), AMD seems poised to once again take the performance lead for another generation. But given just how well Intel’s hybrid process for its 12th-gen chips has worked out, it’ll be interesting to see how it plans to respond. If anything, it sure is nice to see genuine competition in the CPU space again.
While Ryzen 7000 will be AMD’s main focus for the rest of the year, the company is also throwing a bone to mainstream laptops in the fourth quarter with its upcoming 6nm “Mendocino” CPUs. They’ll sport four 6nm Zen 2 cores, as well as RDNA 2 graphics, making them ideal for systems priced between $399 and $699. Sure, that’s not much to get excited about, but even basic machines like Lenovo’s Ideapad 1 deserve decent performance. And for many office drones, it could mean having work-issued machines that finally don’t stink.
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Disney’s Disney+ ad pitch reflects how streaming ad prices set to rise in this year’s upfront
With Disney+, Disney is looking to set a new high-water mark for ad prices among the major ad-supported streamers. The pricey pitch is representative of a broader rising tide in streaming ad pricing in this year’s TV advertising upfront market, as Disney-owned Hulu, Amazon and even Fox’s Tubi are looking to press upfront advertisers to pay up.
In its initial pitch to advertisers and their agencies, Disney is seeking CPMs for Disney+ around $50, according to agency executives. That price point applies to broad-based targeting dubbed “P2+,” which refers to an audience of any viewer who is two years old or older (though Disney has told agency executives that programming aimed at viewers seven years old and younger will be excluded from carrying ads). In other words, more narrowly targeted ads are expected to cost more based on the level of targeting. A Disney spokesperson declined to comment.
At a $50 CPM, Disney+ is surpassing the prices that NBCUniversal’s Peacock and Warner Bros. Discovery’s HBO Max sought in last year’s upfront market and that gave ad buyers sticker shock. The former sought CPMs in the $30 to $40 range, while the latter sought $40+ CPMs. By comparison, other major ad-supported streamers like Hulu, Discovery+ and Paramount+ were charging low-to-mid $20 CPMs that major ad-supported streamers charge. As a result, Peacock’s and HBO Max’s asks ended up being price prohibitive, with some advertisers limiting the amount of money they spent with the streamers because of their higher rates.
Unsurprisingly, agency executives are balking at Disney+’s price point. “They’re citing pricing that no longer exists, meaning Peacock and HBO Max recognized they came out too high and they’re reducing it. Disney+ is using earmuffs to pretend that second part didn’t happen,” said one agency executive.
However, Disney+ isn’t the only streamer seeking to raise the rates that ad buyers are accustomed to paying. Hulu is also seeking to increase its prices in this year’s upfront, with P2+ pricing going from a $20-$25 CPM average to averaging in the $25-$30 CPM range, according to agency executives. And during a call with reporters on May 16, Fox advertising sales president Marianne Gambelli said that the company will seek higher prices for its free, ad-supported streaming TV service Tubi in this year’s upfront market. It’s unclear what Tubi’s current rates are, but FAST services’ CPMS are typically in the low to mid teens, said the agency executives.
“We have to get the value for Tubi. Tubi has grown to a point — it’s doubled, tripled in size over the past couple of years. So we are going to obviously make that a priority and look for not only more volume but price,” Gambelli said.
Meanwhile, in pitching its Thursday Night Football package that will be streamed on Amazon Prime Video and Twitch, Amazon has been pressing for a premium on what Fox charged advertisers last year, according to agency executives. The e-commerce giant will be handling the games’ ad placements like traditional TV, meaning that it will run the same ad in each ad slot for every viewer as opposed to dynamically inserting targeted ads. “It’s streaming broadcast,” said a second agency executive.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on pricing but did provide a general statement. “Thursday Night Football on Prime Video and Twitch is a purely digital broadcast, and we’re excited to bring fans a new viewing experience. There are 80MM active Prime Video households in the U.S. and, in a survey of our 2021 TNF audience, 38% reported they don’t have a pay-TV service – meaning TNF on Prime Video and Twitch enables brands to connect with cord-cutters and cord-nevers. Brands can also reach these viewers beyond TNF. Our first-party insights enable them to reengage TNF audiences across Amazon, such as in Freevee content.”
One of the agency executives that Digiday spoke to said the latest ask is for a plus-10% increase on Fox’s rates, though what Fox’s rates were are unclear and other agency executives said the premium that Amazon is asking for varies. Ad Age reported in February that Amazon was seeking up to 20% higher prices than Fox’s rates. “I don’t know if it is consistently plus-10, but it is definitely more. Which is crazy because Fox couldn’t make money on it, which is why they gave it up for this fall,” said a second agency executive.
“Someone was eating way too many gummies before they put the pricing together,” said a second agency executive of Amazon’s Thursday Night Football pitch.
Ad-supported streaming service owners also see an opportunity to push for higher prices as advertisers to adopt more advanced targeting with their streaming campaigns, such as by using the media companies’ and/or advertisers’ first-party data to aim their ads on the streamers.
Said one TV network executive, “You’ll see premiums, especially as it relates to advertisers that really want to hook into [their company’s streaming service] and buy those targeted audiences across the platform and either use [the TV network’s] first-party data or bring their own data to the table. That’s the biggest business we’re in, and that’s where we see great growth from a pricing standpoint.”
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