Stop me if you've heard this one before (but this time it's different—I promise).

Google may delay third-party cookie deprecation again because of low publisher adoption of FLEDGE, a key piece of its so-called “Privacy Sandbox,” in which auctions run directly on Chrome and therefore don’t rely on tracking consumers across websites to retarget ads.

Ad tech firm RTB House reported that the delay could happen if supply-side platforms, which work with publishers to sell ads, and ad tech partners don’t test FLEDGE, which stands for “first locally executed decisions over groups experiment.” Google, for its part, says it’s “firmly committed to the timeline” to deprecate cookies by the end of 2024. If Google did end up rolling back its timeline, it would mark the third delay since the company announced its plans for cookie deprecation in early 2020.

FLEDGE promises to give publishers more control in Google’s ad tech ecosystem and create a level playing field with an alternative auction. The FLEDGE API, in theory, could also provide publishers and advertisers more transparency into bidding activity and value. RTB House, however, believes publishers have been skittish to adopt because third-party cookies exist for targeting. With each Google delay, the sense of urgency decreases. 

Publishers should keep moving forward 

Third-party cookies will one day go away, whether next year or in five. And publishers must be ready for it. The publishing industry could lose $10 billion in ad revenue when third-party cookies vanish. The longer publishers hold onto legacy advertising tactics, the more they risk being left behind competitors, unable to command advertising investment, and ultimately losing money. 

That’s why we support publishers building up their cache of first-party data about their direct users regardless of which cookie alternative wins the day. Really, this is where publishers wield the most power—owning that relationship with readers. The more data you collect, the more you can understand your users and craft content that leads to the desired actions, building loyalty over time. Disqus helps publishers harness this data in a few different ways:

  • Boost site traffic: Our monetization suite helps publishers grow the audience engagement metrics such as page views and time-on-site to grow community engagement at scale. 
  • Drive registrations: We help you nudge users to register for your site and its comments effortlessly with functionality such as single sign-on to create a better user experience and keep control over your data. 
  • Increase subscriptions: Use first-party data to convert registered users into paid subscribers.
  • Activate advertising: Tap into flexible, customizable ad inventory in the Disqus comment embed that targets your most engaged readers in brand-safe ways.
  • Extend with an SSP: Did you know Zeta Global, Disqus's parent company, has its own SSP? Go beyond outside-the-embed inventory to connect with our extensive and direct partnerships with brands and advertisers.

The bottom line

You're likely already employing a number of different strategies for boosting your first-party data stack. Offering your site a comments section is another tried-and-true tactic of doing so that directly deepens the relationship between publisher and user, providing a consistent source of first-party audience data. Additionally, publishers who choose Disqus for their comments sections are tapping into a millions-strong community of engaged, highly-active users who will be directed to your community and add to your source of the above data. 

By keeping the conversation where it belongs—on your site—you're building a permanent home for your community, which may find itself increasingly splintered amongst various social media platforms without a comment section to keep coming back to. 

In addition, publishers looking to open up new and sustainable revenue streams in this economically uncertain time would do well to double down on the comment section as a viable method of capitalizing on their expanding data sets. Disqus publishers can earn thousands of dollars a day via our premium ad packages that fit seamlessly into our embed and complement the commenting experience.

Whichever challenge you're facing, and no matter what Google ultimately decides regarding the third-party cookie, Disqus equips you with ample tools to succeed now and next. If you’re looking to start improving engagement on your site and collecting more first-party data about users to future-proof yourself against third-party cookie deprecation, we’re here to help.