For years, knowing your audience wasn’t a priority. Instead, publishers outsourced that responsibility to adtech vendors. Since most monetization was done with 3rd-party cookies anyway, the publisher didn’t really care. Or, if they cared, they didn’t have the will to overcome the competitive disadvantage they found themselves in.
But with a continued pull away from 3rd-party cookies due to browsers like Safari, Firefox, and Chrome (one day) blocking them, publishers have had no choice but to start thinking about who their audience is. I’ve long believed that the best thing to happen to media companies is the death of the 3rd-party cookie. It’s caused a lot of headaches in the short term, but for publishers that have been able to evolve and gather 1st-party data, it’ll give them a significant advantage.