Karen Eccles, The Telegraph: A once in a generation chance

“We have a once in generation chance to rewrite things.” 

There is still some time before the third-party cookie will cease to exist but it is a real chance to right some wrongs the industry created over the past years. 

In the second episode of our Identity Architects podcast our VP Sales Stu Colman sat down with Karen Eccles, Senior Director, Commercial Innovation at The Telegraph, talking not only about Google’s latest announcement but also discussing challenges publishers are facing with the loss of third-party cookies, their first-party solution powered by InfoSum, Unity, and more.

“It feels like you're punching yourself in the face, fighting the system that you are investing in.” That is how Karen describes the current situation with the industry using third-party cookies.

“We’ve had quite a lot of time to think about this and really to conclude that the current model doesn’t work for advertisers and it doesn't work for publishers. And it really rewards the wrong things. So it encourages content makers - which I think are different to publishers - to try to gain as big numbers of impressions as possible in order to drive revenues. This ecosystem has built up and third-party data and third-party cookies have fueled it where we've ended up in this crazy place where advertisers are spending so much money.”

So where do we go from here, with this once in a generation chance to rewrite things?

“My hope is that we use this point in time now to redefine the direction the industry has gone in. For me it would be a real shame if we took this opportunity and just tried to replace the third-party cookie with an alternative solution that does the same thing.”

There has been a lot of talk about trust and purpose and Karen agrees that it is very important. But for her it is not just trust about the use of people’s data but also their trust in the content and articles written and why. “Is [the article] there just so it can harvest impressions and sell it cheap or is it actually fact checked, is it true? All of these things are so important. A lot of the time it's there just so that advertising revenues can be made off the back of it.”

The trust has been broken for a long time now and we think it is wonderful to see publishers, media owners and brands like The Telegraph trying to do all in their power to restore some of it.

“I think it's really important that we build that trust up again and that we just try and do the right thing.”

After Apple and Firefox, Google now announced an official timeline for the demise of third-party cookies on Chrome. Although it is still a couple of years until that actually happens, for The Telegraph it can not come quick enough.

“When Google made their announcement, for us it couldn't come quick enough that we could start working to do something differently and to rebuild because that is an issue that does need to be fixed urgently. And we feel ready and delaying just prolongs this sort of decaying system that doesn’t value privacy or premium publisher environments.”

But on the other hand, they know that only the most advanced and the really early adopting brands are ready. “Even if they're moving quickly it takes them a long time to be ready. They have a year or two if they start acting now to be ready in time.”

And the additional time seems to be exactly what the industry needs, that way according to Karen, they are not forced to make a decision that they might otherwise not make. “There is still a sense of urgency because it is going to take a long time to get the right systems and legals in place. There's so many test and fails that we need to do to learn.”

So let’s try and make the most out of the time we have!

Thanks, Karen and The Telegraph, for the chat.