Centro’s Director of Product Marketing breaks down our response to Google’s recent announcement.

The News from Google

The topic of identity is changing by the minute. The amount of information and updates on privacy and third-party cookies can feel overwhelming to marketers looking to stay ahead of the game. Our teams at Centro and Basis are tracking these updates and helping marketers understand their impact. Are you confused by the changes? Reach out! We’re here to help.

Today, news broke that Google has delayed the release of cookie-blocking in Chrome until late 2023, a significant delay in a lightning-fast conversation. At Centro, we believe this is a healthy move for our industry. This pause will ideally create a solution that is a win for all parties.

Google’s Chrome browser has a 67% market share, but accounts for approximately 76% of webpage views, according to Centro's internal data. This represents a massive and motivating number of impressions.

With that volume on the line and a short window, many companies sprinted toward solutions—some good and some lacking—when Google first announced cookie blocking. Others adopted a wait-and-see strategy. Basis has taken an active role by developing cookieless conversions (currently in beta), building an identity testing framework (also in beta), releasing a contextual insights report, and integrating LiveRamp’s IdentityLink.

The initial deadline, while aggressive, kickstarted solutions and brought a lot of needed attention to this issue. What the industry needs now is time. Ad tech providers need time to refine identity solutions. Advertisers need time to prepare their targeting and analytics strategies. Publishers need time to adjust their revenue models.

Centro’s Stance on the Future of Consumer Privacy

As we’ve previously published in an open letter from Centro’s founder and CEO, the privacy discussion is an opportunity to address the real problem of consumer privacy, and become better as an industry. Many of the privacy solutions being developed are simply exploiting loopholes and circumventing the legislation, instead of targeting the real issue. Any success with these loophole-solutions will be short-lived, since they are not respecting the rising concern for data privacy.

Chrome’s new target date does not change the mission to create a solution that satisfies all parties and, most importantly, respects users. Chrome has significant market share, so this delay provides a little breathing room and a small sense of relief.

However, the truth is that privacy regulation is in various stages across different avenues. We have been experiencing cookie loss from Safari, Firefox, Apple’s iOS, and others for a while now. Basis has proactively adapted, and is prepared for continuing privacy changes. Our software and services teams are filled with strategic leaders, digital media domain experts, and technical authorities, all well-versed in identity.

What’s Next?

Does this delay change how marketers should prepare for cookie loss? Not really—we just have some extra time to thoughtfully prepare. There should still be a sense of urgency.

Here are our recommendations on preparing for privacy changes:

Alternatives to Third-Party Audiences:

Performance Tracking that Doesn’t Rely Solely on Cookies:

Looking for more guidance on how to prepare for a privacy-first future? Check out our write-up of three groups working toward innovative identity solutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly impacted our lives. From canceled events to shelter-in-place orders, the world looks very different than it did just a few weeks ago. People throughout the world have been asked to work from home, avoid gatherings of over 10 individuals, and eliminate travel in order to flatten the curve of infection. These lifestyle changes are impacting how, when, and where people consume media.

It’s evident that much of the free time that people are now spending at home is occupied by consuming media of all types. Here’s what the new normal looks like from a media perspective:

Video streaming subscriptions and usage have surged

During the first weeks of shelter-in-place decrees in numerous cities and towns, bandwidth for video streaming services increased by 12%. New subscriber volume for Netflix is also up, with over 250k welcome emails in one March weekend. Netflix is also increasing “winback” efforts to re-engage lapsed subscribers.

Connected TV inventory has increased

Connected TV streams are expected to soar past the 2019 average of 4 hours and 28 minutes per day.

Pay walls have come down and premium content is being offered for free (for now)

Select publishers are allowing free online access to COVID-19 news and information, regardless of existing paywalls or article limits. Additionally, content creators are getting creative in distributing offerings normally available for a cost. For example, fitness companies are offering free workouts, meditation apps are releasing COVID-19 stress relief content, and musicians are streaming acoustic concerts.

In-person interaction has been partially replaced by social media

Social distancing has limited in-person interactions. During this time, the need for human connection has been partially replaced by increased use of social media outlets. There has been a 22% increase in Instagram impressions and a 27% increase in TikTok engagement. Time spent on social media is expected to increase, while the types of activities are expected to remain the same (keeping up with family and friends, viewing news and entertainment, etc.).

Broadcast news is preferred

When it comes to breaking news, consumers prefer TV over other vehicles due to longstanding trust in the medium, as well as the speed of updated information. During this pandemic, we also expect the digital extensions of these TV broadcasts to see a significant boost.

Live sports viewing has shifted to streaming video services and gaming

Many live sporting events throughout the world, from NCAA March Madness to the Masters, have been canceled or postponed. The time spent watching sports has since shifted to other video content and video games. Among sports superfans, 61.5% also subscribe to at least one streaming service. Additionally, online gaming has skyrocketed by 75%.

Traffic to trusted digital publishers has increased

With COVID-19 reaching pandemic proportions, trusted news sources have become essential to day-to-day life. Self-distancing and shelter-in-place orders have increased time spent with trusted digital news outlets. According to WebsiteIQ.com, CNN’s traffic increased by over 30% between December and February. Overall, week-over-week usage patterns show total web traffic has risen by 22%.

Print publications are experiencing more hardship

Newspapers are significantly more likely to be purchased by people 65 years of age and older, who are strictly observing self-distancing guidelines and staying home. Additionally, the reduction in the number of commuters and travelers who pick up print publications has decreased circulation rate.

As the world adjusts to new habits, people’s media consumption has shifted too. We will continue to share our knowledge and resources during this time to keep advertisers and marketers up-to-date.

Are you looking to navigate through these industry changes? Connect with Centro to get started.


MRI:  2019 Doublebase crossing (NHL Superfan OR NBA Superfan OR College Basketball Superfan) with Household Subscribes to Streaming Service (last 30 days)

Can you smell that? Smells like… change. As of January 2020, 33 states have legalized medicinal marijuana use, and 11 have approved recreational sales.

The cannabis industry is growing rapidly, with states across the country rolling out new regulations every week. No one is shying away from the massive economic opportunity available in this vertical, but evolving legislation and geographic nuances make cannabis advertising daunting for even the most seasoned media planners.

Luckily, there are ways to get ahead before even starting a campaign. Cover all your bases with our top three tips for cannabis marketers:

  1. Partner with Subject Matter Experts

Because Cannabis is an ever-changing space, ongoing education is critical for agencies and brands. With new regulations appearing every week, advertisers must stay up-to-date in order to not be left behind.

To support our clients in this dynamic space, Centro maintains teams of subject matter experts who are dedicated to supporting our cannabis clients as they become industry frontrunners. For example:

  1. Leverage Premium Inventories

Finding quality traffic for cannabis and CBD ads will continue to challenge advertisers. Publishers often block list cannabis and CBD ads as a default, which means that quality ad space is not a given.

Without access to vetted publishers, your ad campaign is compromised before it begins. That’s why in this vertical, it’s even more important to ensure that your DSP provides premium, cannabis-friendly inventory.

Basis provides this inventory at scale. Our integration with CannaVu's ad exchange is one way Centro clients can access the largest ad marketplace for curated, compliant advertising opportunities for cannabis and CBD marketers.

  1. Choose the #1 Rated Programmatic Marketing Platform

The opportunity in cannabis advertising means that a variety of new media platforms have popped up to meet growing demand. Choose a platform with proven impact to best serve your growing business!

An established platform like Basis can support a business through each phase of its growth—from start-up, to scaling and expansion, to maturity. Over $1BN of media has already run through Basis, and our team is nimble enough to meet the unique needs of the evolving cannabis vertical.

Check these three boxes and you’ll be well on your way to a good trip. Curious about cannabis or CBD advertising with Centro? Contact info@centro.net to learn more.


Thought leaders, assemble! We recently hosted a roundtable discussion with the Centro Industry Advisory Group (CIAG). The CIAG is aimed at gathering valuable input from thought leaders to help shape the future of advertising technology and services.

Digital creative is up against a lot of hurdles. It can be difficult to stand out while creating a positive experience between audience and brand. On top of that, digital creative is often an afterthought. Many brands repurpose TV spots and print assets for digital vehicles that are capable of so much more.

In our latest Centro Industry Advisory Group (CIAG), we discussed how advertisers can think about digital (both media and creative) first. Planning ahead is key, but you have options even if you’re short on time. Here are our top three digital creative tips you can use no matter what your timeline looks like:

  1. Maximize Your Photo and Video Shoots

Get approval to send a social strategist or digital planner to the production day. Your talent is there, so take this opportunity to capture tons of extra content! It won’t all be gold, but the team can sift through it to find the moments worth repurposing when time isn’t such an issue.

Make sure the person you send is very comfortable with social media as well as the brand’s voice and standards. Instruct them to take vertical video as well as horizontal video. Mix up the aspect ratios. Take videos, take photos, take Boomerangs, apply filters. Just capture content.

If you’re confident in the abilities of that person, give them permission to go live on various platforms or post to your stories in real time. When you’re back in the office, take some of the content and build mock ups of your raw content in a digital environment. Most platforms have WYSIWYG tools that anyone can use for free.

  1. Think About the Realistic Digital Experience

The simplest example of this is online video. We all like to think of media consumption as the stock photo experience:

Woman with phone on couch

We idealize that our audiences look like the picture above: Comfortably sitting on a couch with their phone, sound on, viewing a full-screen video of your ad with no distractions. But when is the last time YOU fit that image?

Mobile video in particular is often consumed with many distractions (i.e. TV, kids, the zombie apocalypse), on various devices, and regularly muted. To have a chance at stopping the scroll, try adding subtitles to mobile video.

  1. Maximum Allowable Duration Does Not Equal Most Effective Duration

TV is typically bought in :15 and :30s, but digital is much more flexible. In the analytics world, just because you can measure 50 metrics doesn’t mean you should measure all 50 metrics. In video creative, just because you have :30, doesn’t mean you should use :30.

Think about users’ attention span. If you can tell your story in :09, tell it in :09. YouTube now has a standard :06 format called the bumper ad. Creative folks may not think this is enough time to tell the story, but there are many world-class brands doing a great job with this format.

These very short-form videos also discourage ads that build to a big reveal at the end. These ads sometimes have low brand recall since attention has moved on and the viewer doesn’t even make it to the reveal.

At the end of the day, digital is a fast-moving and unique medium. It’s full of potential for advertisers who can harness its power. Additionally, digital is one of the only mediums that can provide rapid feedback. We’ve given you three tips here, but we encourage everyone to test, learn, iterate, and improve.

We are currently forming a junior industry advisory group comprised of future media and marketing leaders with 7-10 years of experience. Our advisory groups provide guidance on best practices and where the industry is headed in a conversational, round table format. If you are interested in joining our group, please fill out our quick form!

Thought leaders, assemble! We recently hosted a roundtable discussion with the Centro Industry Advisory Group (CIAG). The CIAG is aimed at gathering valuable input from thought leaders to help shape the future of advertising technology and services. Read on for key takeaways:

Want to become priceless to your agency executive? Become a T-shaped person.

We recently asked the Centro Industry Advisory Group (CIAG) what they look for when hiring and promoting within their teams. There was one common theme from executives when it comes to staffing for the success of a business: Finding T-shaped people is critical.

T-Shaped People? What? 

Also known as generalized specialists, T-shaped people have a thin slice of a broad set of skills, but can also go deep on one or two specific areas. Agency executives are looking for this type of person to work on their most important accounts—someone who brings a deep expertise to a situation, but also understands enough context to make smart decisions.

In our industry, this could look like an analytics expert with a solid base of the other aspects of digital media:

Context Is King

In our example above, even the best analytical mind still needs context about the strategy and goals of a campaign—we work in a complicated industry!

Imagine hiring Paul DePodesta, the brain behind Moneyball, and asking him to analyze your campaign. Sure, he could do some amazing work right off the bat (baseball pun intended), but to fully unlock the genius of DePodesta, you’d have to share context with him. What is the KPI? What are the benchmarks? Why did you choose this media mix? What’s the creative call-to-action? What does the landing page look like? You get the idea.

Context is someone’s breadth of knowledge about a subject. Building context helps you move faster, catch critical nuances, and make better decisions. Adding just a little context also increases the impact of your expertise exponentially.

How to Become a Jack of All TradesMaster of One

The first step is recognizing where you are.

If you have the breadth and context, begin to think about where you’d like to specialize. Good places to start your search are passions and industry trends. Are you already a political junkie? Specialize in political advertising. Do you recognize the importance of data science in media? Look into continuing education programs or certifications to deepen your knowledge.

If you are already an expert in an area, but need the context, start talking to people. Set up coffee chats and be curious about their roles. Build connections, then ask to work on small projects with those teams to get a working knowledge of the landscape.

Centro’s software, services, and resources can quickly help you get what you’re missing, whether that’s depth or breadth. Check out Centro Institute to take advantage of our educational resources!

Thought leaders, assemble! We recently hosted a roundtable discussion with the Centro Industry Advisory Group (CIAG). The CIAG is aimed at gathering valuable input from thought leaders to help shape the future of advertising technology and services. Read on for four key takeaways:

1. Expect unexpected staffing issues

Recruiting and retaining talent is an issue for agencies in all markets. In large markets, intense competition for talent leads to higher turnover, and in smaller markets, qualified candidates can be hard to come by.

On top of that, staffing needs are unpredictable. Team needs change day-to-day due to sick days or unexpected departures. Events such as an acquisition, a change in management, or a big account win or loss can have long-term impacts on staffing plans.

Whatever the reason, be proactive. Use platforms and implement processes that help you prepare for a staffing gap before there’s an issue. Make it easy for team members to pick up where others left off by preserving institutional knowledge during a departure. Use tools that retain campaign histories, log all relevant communications, and store critical documents where they can be accessed by the rest of the team.

Finally, when hiring, lean into your network to find great people. Be open-minded and resist the urge to make a checklist. Instead, focus on a candidate’s adaptability, culture fit, and capacity to learn.

2. When it comes to CPMs, you get what you pay for

In the media world, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Cheap CPMs may mean more impressions—but not all impressions are created equal. For the middle 70% of the CPM range, quality and rate are reasonably scalable.

On the other hand, low-end and high-end CPMs can be out-of-whack; for example, $50 CPMs rarely produce 10x the benefit of a $5 CPM. Conversely, winning inventory at $0.25 per thousand can be wasteful and damaging for brands if their ads are running on the wrong sites.

Be sure to monitor your campaigns to balance the quality and price equation. Viewability is a good place to start, but also look for reasonable frequency, comb through domain reporting for excessive impressions on unknown sites, and turn off exchanges with reputations for excessive non-human traffic.

Additionally, depending on your set KPIs, set up testing opportunities to compare different CPM ranges.

3. Strategic thinking makes a comeback

With so much focus on ad tech, data, and execution in the last few years, deep strategic planning has taken a back seat—but don’t lose sight of the fact that a solid strategy is critical to a campaign’s success!

Rather than channel-based planning, flexible categorical planning may help media professionals and brand managers freshen their approach. Planning categorically means that groupings are tailored to each specific initiative based on business goals and marketing positioning.

For example, digital planners traditionally use buckets like search, social, and programmatic. Instead, consider groupings that align with your business goals and build tactics to serve those goals. This could include simple buckets like “engage, close, retain” or more customized frameworks such as “buzz-building, event support, post-event reengagement.”

This kind of creative thinking can create a more unified experience for consumers, help brands break through the noise, ultimately, produce more effective campaigns.

4. Narratives are more valuable than numbers

We are currently in an era of ‘data bloat’ where whatever can be measured is measured. It’s easy to get lost with all the numbers flying around, but two elements need to remain at the forefront: KPIs and effective narratives.

First, before any performance data is gathered, establish a KPI that aligns with your strategy. Once data starts coming in, maintain focus on the KPI and make optimizations to improve that singular metric. Recommend actions to take based on the campaign data, anecdotes from non-competitive parallel brands, and industry trends. Actionable insights are more valuable than reporting.

Second, find the most effective way to tell the story. Every audience is different, and you may need to change your approach to communicate effectively. That may be via data visualization, digging through the data together in a working session, or creating a sample user journey to illustrate your theme. Every report should have a narrative and a next step.

At Centro, we can help you implement these insights to keep your business at the top of its game. Whether you’re ready to plan and buy on your own or if you need additional guidance—we have a solution. Learn more about Basis and Centro services today!