Brave: Update (six months of data): lessons for growing publisher revenue by removing 3rd party tracking

by Johnny RyanJul 24, 2020Brave Insights, ePrivacy Regulation, Fix adtech, GDPR, Policy

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This note presents lessons for all publishers based on six months of data from Dutch publisher NPO, after it removed 3rd party tracking.

Additional revenue data from the Dutch publisher NPO reveals the real-world impact on the revenues of websites of various sizes of removing 3rd party adtech and tracking.

As a previous note outlined, NPO removed third party tracking from its websites at the start of 2020, and sold advertising exclusively by using contextual targeting. The previous note revealed that NPO and its sales house, Ster, enjoyed a leap in revenue as a result.

This update adds the month of June 2020, allowing a six month view of the publisher’s revenue increase, and slightly updates and increases the previously published figures for the first five months of 2020.

An irony is that now that NPO and Ster have shown what is possible with private advertising, the Dutch Government is considering making NPO entirely taxpayer-funded in the coming years.

Finding 1: the revenue increase is attributable to removing 3rd party tracking and adtech
NPO and its sales house, Ster, invested in contextual targeting and testing, and produced vast sales increases even with sites that do not appear to dominate their categories. This may be a tribute to Ster’s ability to sell inventory across NPO’s media group as a collective, but this benefit would have applied in 2019 and does not account for the revenue jump in 2020. A publisher does not therefore need to have market dominance to abandon 3rd party tracking and reproduce NPO’s vast revenue increase.

Finding 2: legitimate publishers of all size can increase revenue
Legitimate publishers of all sizes should be able to follow this example. Although it is a national broadcast group, NPO websites do not dominate the web traffic rankings in the Netherlands.

Only one of NPO’s properties ( ranks in the top 5 in its category in the Netherlands, according. To Similar Web.[1] None of the other NPO properties are in the Netherland’s top 100.[2] The other NPO websites for which Similar Web provides a traffic rank estimation (versus other websites in the Netherlands) range from 180th to 5,040th most popular in the Netherlands.[3] (Addendum: the table below also includes statistics from NOBO, which uses census data from their own panel and counts the amount of times this panel visits different websites.)

NPO properties’ popularity or market position in each content category are not correlated with increases in impressions sold. Country site rank, category site rank, and numbers of page views, vary widely between the properties, whereas the increases in impression sold are all above 83%, with one explicable[4] exception.

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