Falling consent rates, an increasing number of users employing ad-blockers, RPIs reducing rapidly… for digital publishers who previously replied on ad-based revenues for survival, there are a huge number of challenges to overcome.

INfluencia recently spoke to Stephane Pere, CRO at Poool, about these difficulties, the changing internet environment and what solutions publishers should be employing to stay afloat in the cookieless world.

INfluencia: your clients (publishers) are in a fairly strained position at the moment… What's your view on this?

Stéphane Père: they are indeed - for digital publishers reliant on advertising revenue there’s a huge amount of pressure, more than ever before.

Poool, the Audience Conversion Platform, works with a wide range of content producers in France and internationally*. We therefore have a clear and global view of the current challenges faced by publishers, and it’s edifying to see how everywhere, for every content producer, the situation is worrying. Hundreds of media are fighting for the remaining 30% of the ad display market, with the rest monopolized by tech giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon (Emarketer Mars 2021). 80% of traffic is now on mobile devices where monetization is roughly 2 times smaller than on desktop. Simultaneously, 35% of users on desktops in France employ ad-blockers, 42% globally (Backlinko et Hootsuite). Cookie consent rates are free falling at a shocking rate, with France leading the way with tightened restrictions from April 2021 - in just 5 months, consent rates dropped from 90 to 70% in France since this CNIL announcement - with Finland in the process of doing the same and the rest of Europe set to follow. Who knows where these tightening restrictions and falling consent rates will end.

*In France, publishers like L’Express and ELLE as well as pure players like Welcome to the Jungle. Internationally, Sinar Harian in Malaysia, MoneyWeb in South Africa and Neos Kosmos in Australia.

INfluencia: What are the consequences of this fall in consent rates?

Stéphane: the fall in cookie consent rates has hugely dramatic consequences for publishers who have previously survived with digital ad revenue alone. Advertising revenues without cookies are sold (at best) at a significantly lower cost, if even sold at all.

“An audience without consent is worth 80 RPI points less than a consensual audience” - David Folgueira, Prisma Media Solutions.

Without consent, publishers also have fewer audience analysis capabilities, won’t be able to personalize user experiences and equally won’t be able to track their marketing campaigns. There’s a lot at play.

And we predict that 20% of consent rates are susceptible to drop over the next 6 months, and again 6 months after that… Consumers now understand user privacy online and know that they can decline cookies with ease. If these users have been able to click ‘consent’ without much thought in the past 6 months, they’re equally able to change this decision every 6 months…

Ultimately, if nothing’s done, and given that ad based revenues will be susceptible to fall by at least 10% every 6 months, publishers will be able to work out the end point, the point at which they can no longer survive on this revenue stream.

The cookieless world is tomorrow and, even if Chrome delayed the inevitable until 2023, giving room for businesses to adapt, the time to act and start turning unknown audiences into registered users is now!

INfluencia: So, for you, publishers need to put some alternative solutions in place in order to continue to collect first-party data. How can they do this?

Stéphane: There are 3 complementary steps to follow that will solve this enormous challenge for content producers.

In the short term, digital medias need to recuperate their lost consent rate by informing, suggesting and constraining. And this can be achieved with a Cookie Wall with alternatives.

In the medium term, launching a strong membership strategy to build lasting relationships with users and collect first-party data when they log into your site (also meaning ad targeting will be possible) via a Registration Wall. Encouraging account creation really is a hugely valuable technique in every revenue strategy, whether it be ad-based, subscription, e-commercial or other (or a combination). And we’ve seen publishers more than double the number of logged in users on their site in just a few months, solving many of the challenges that they previously faced

In the long term, build a recurring and predictable revenue stream via digital subscriptions. In this strategy, a Paywall is your most valuable tool. ELLE, for example, has experienced a 2.5 times increase in the number of digital subscribers on their site since integrating a dynamic paywall.

INfluencia: What should publishers be wary of when launching these strategies?

Stéphane: when launching an audience conversion strategy, you’re building the foundations to survive in the internet future, but, of course, it’s important to not shoot yourself in the foot - this new strategy shouldn’t have a negative impact on traffic, audience engagement or work done on optimizing SEO performance.

To avoid these issues, we recommend:

  • Using a variety of dynamic and flexible blocking methods that allow for the testing of multiple scenarios on different audience segments, particularly based on a user’s engagement level, without needing to call upon your tech team at every step
  • Employing a test & learn approach to optimize regularly and vary messages, walls and journeys every month (perhaps even more regularly than that)
  • Do so with a deep granularity at article, device, source, user engagement, etc levels. Why? Because not all audiences are the same, so conversion options should be adapted to ensure optimal results

For digital content producers, there’s a very real and significant urgency to take back control of these revenues. Not only is advertising monetization alone no longer enough, but membership and subscription strategies are emerging as complementary and hugely valuable strategies, converting unknown audiences into leads, members and subscribers. And there’s no better time than now to get on board - it really is a matter of months to act, not years.

About Poool: Poool provides digital content producers with an Audience Conversion Platform, allowing them to convert their audiences into leads, members and subscribers thanks to their dynamic wall solution (Cookie Wall, Registration Wall, Paywall).

About Stéphane Père: Chief Revenue Officer at Poool since 2020 after 12 years at The Economist, 5 of which as Chief Data Officer in charge of ad-based revenues, subscriptions and diversification.