Hungry? Let’s fight over pie!

A slice of pie

The end of cookies means a new age of publisher empowerment.

The rise of AI means the end of publisher traffic.

The preservation of the open web is essential to publisher health.

The focus on the premium internet is essential to advertiser health.

Advertising seems to be in a weird place these days. The foundational elements of advertising are shifting in real time and the internet feels to be rebuilding itself while driving 180MPH down the highway (perhaps down the ad-obahn?)


Gone and then not gone and then soon to be gone. This core component of media buying for over a decade and a half is on the verge of retirement, and no one knows what lies on the other side. Google continues to delay the inevitable, and players like The Trade Desk are seemingly making some strategic moves to secure scale for their UID2, which indicates that no one is ready to fully move on and replace a 1:1 at scale.

This could mean a shift from a user driven model to a content driven model where publisher quality, content, and traffic drives buying decisions more than audience inclusion.

The potential issue is that much of publisher traffic is driven by search…

Search driven traffic?

Teetering. With AI being the buzzword of the day, the new power players are OpenAI and savvy startups like Perplexity. Perplexity foregoes the traditional search results listing to just jump to the conclusion, which means far fewer eyeballs for publishers. This is pushing Google to move faster with its AI search evolution, and despite some early missteps, the potential of losing up to 1/3 of publisher traffic is a very real concern for publishers.

If Google goes all in on AI and search as we know it evolves into a modern day, publishers would need to figure out other ways to replace their user volume or otherwise be faced with even more difficult financial issues than they already face.

So how big is the pie and how much can I eat?

All of this shifting leaves us with a fascinating conundrum:

The demise of cookies could mean that publishers can eat more of the pie. Their content and users are more valuable than ever before, so the cut of margin should benefit them more than the buy side platforms.

The rise of AI means that the pie may be getting smaller, so while publishers can get more of the available spend, there may be fewer impressions to sell, meaning a smaller pie for everyone.

The hardest part is that no one knows what lies ahead. This is all brand new for an industry that has thrived for years on leveraging the foundational status quo of endless cookies and search traffic. All we can do is watch, be ready to adjust, and in the end…

Just spend more on CTV.

Share article:

Other Posts

The industry is moving away from 1:1 targeting or any use of PII. With a fragmented landscape, many
The CTV market is growing 15-20%/year and is expected to reach $33B soon. Walmart's acquisition of Vizio is
We have a basic hypothesis that most marketers and agencies are not paying enough attention to reaching users