There’s much to distract publishers of late. Misinformation, disinformation, and a rash of related and serious current events abound. Third-party cookie deprecation looms, as ever. Leadership, privacy, and measurement-and-reach changes in the big tech platforms have disrupted both advertising and publishing to a large degree.

Trying to keep pace with all of these developments becomes a zero-sum game if it prevents publishers from taking actions that can actually future-proof their businesses. The reality is, there is a powerful resource that publishers already have that can help them design new strategies to positively and safely engage more users while unlocking more revenue. It’s data. Let’s dig into the different types of data that show promise for publishers hoping to help power a thriving open internet. 


Publishers have always benefited from a direct, first-party relationship with users. This comes via first-party data in several forms, including, naturally, the comments section, along with registrations and subscriptions. Cultivating a high-quality, brand-suitable comments section is a central vehicle for converting unknown users into known users. You can keep users coming back for more with Disqus features like Featured Comments, Reply Notifications, and @Mentions. When publishers can encourage users to register with a seamless sign-up and login process via tools such as our SSO integration, they both promise a better user experience and stay in control of their data. 

Then, publishers with robust analytics capabilities can analyze content, audience, reaction, and advertising metrics to understand what’s working and what’s not. These insights can help publishers boost engagement and user acquisition while preparing for the cookieless future.


Contextual is a powerful type of data connected directly to publishers’ content. Rather than focusing on a user’s past consumption or purchase behavior, contextual is based on the content a user most recently visited. The recency and context can help advertisers better target ads to users based on their real-time interests and intent—not, for example, the pair of shoes they bought six months ago. Contextual aggregates from and connects multiple data sets like demographic, preference, and last item purchased from across websites, email, and social media. 

Retail media 

U.S. digital retail media ad spending is forecasted to grow to $61 billion by 2024 to comprise nearly 20% of all digital spending. In essence, retail media refers to ads placed either on a retailer’s owned sites or on other retail brands’ sites to influence purchases. For instance, think of a clothing brand that is sold at Target. The brand will advertise on its own brand site and then also via Target’s site to extend its audience reach. Retail media is so powerful in the face of many of the same challenges publishers face because it directly connects ad spend to sales—something far more challenging to accomplish without third-party cookies.

Publishers can majorly benefit from retail media as it unlocks new revenue streams based on the monetization of—you guessed it—their valuable first-party data and audiences. As retail media increasingly expands into commerce media, brands become more dependent on a network of open web publishers to find and engage users in the places they are browsing and buying. In fact, 7 in 10 consumers like reading articles on the open web before making a purchase, according to ad platform Criteo. Even if a publisher's content is not retail-focused, there are still opportunities to connect to commerce, where most advertising dollars are starting to flow. The Wall Street Journal and CNN, for instance, recently launched coupon sections. 


Good old-fashioned email has made a comeback as a preferred marketing channel, outranking even company websites and blogs. That’s because it can tell you a lot about your users, the data can be segmented in myriad ways and it’s a relatively low-cost channel to use. When publishers collect email addresses in the registration or subscription sign-up process, they can tap into data like demographics, the content in which users most often engage, and which offers, surveys, and quizzes most resonate. All of this information helps flesh out user profiles so you increase your understanding of individuals and how to best engage and retain them. 

Disqus is here to help you harness your first-party data for improved engagement and monetization capabilities. Get in touch today to learn more!