Data Guest Columns

Opinion: Why publishers need to place the customer at the centre of the online experience

In the fiercely competitive space that is digital publishing, never has more emphasis been placed on the customer experience. With the increasingly vast number of publishers vying for the attention of readers across various platforms, if one thing is certain, it’s the rapid speed at which the industry has moved over the last decade.

With a burgeoning portfolio of digital outlets producing content for diverse audiences, publishers need to be increasingly aware of the opportunities that exist to better monetise their platforms by inviting marketers, brands and advertisers to target their readership base.

Users accessing publishing sites are now consuming content across multiple devices and channels. Until recently, it hasn’t been possible to uniquely identify these users as they disparately move from their phone to their tablet, for example. Previously, publishers and advertisers relied on targeting audience profiles which segmented a publisher ’s audiences based on common traits rather than absolute identity. Content was therefore not optimised for individual preference, which led to an impersonal customer experience.

However, by leveraging the growing capabilities available from data-driven marketing, publishers can now connect the dots between previously anonymous data points and more easily recognise individual customers. Being able to ‘Identify’ individual customers and target/messaging them appropriately not only helps to retain and engage readers, it also drives revenue streams through more relevant advertising methods.

Advertisers too are increasingly aware of the power of Identity (also sometimes called People-Based Marketing) and are becoming more demanding, seeking access to highly targeted audiences before committing to ad spend. This clarity on audience is paramount then if content producers are to effectively monetise their platforms. Platforms such as Facebook have set the bar by having access to one of the richest sets of People-Based data and capability on the web, and promise advertisers extremely precise, individual-level targeting across a wide range of categories  – including demographics, location, and even personal interests.

Not content with only being able to Identify fully on Facebook, advertisers are increasingly looking beyond walled gardens to access specific audiences, rather than paying for online ad space or content. This creates challenges for publishers who have previously relied on the quality of their content and their behavioural/intent segments alone.

Publishers have adopted a variety of strategies to drive digital revenues. Many newspaper groups, for example, have reacted by establishing paywalls across their digital spaces. The drawback of this approach is that it restricts a business’  readership numbers, and limits both the value of their owned content channels and their potential ad revenue.

Other publishers have explored options including native advertising, which positions advertorial content as editorial, with varying degrees of success. However, this can have a resulting backlash from readers over the authenticity of the content and outlet. This negative reaction from readers could be put down to an overexposure of irrelevant advertising masquerading as content.

Just as consumers favour quality of relevant content, the same is true of adverts. Why pay for ad space when the audience is not relevant to your product, or if you’re targeting the same person unknowingly because they are accessing the same content and seeing ads using different devices, and when it’s possible to target individual prospects using Identity and People-based Marketing.

Data onboarding, (recognising your offline customers online), and identity resolution, (identifying users across multiple devices and IDs) can really help to smooth the relationship with publishers and their audiences. In publishing terms, this enables content producers and aggregators to identify readers even when they move from platform to platform or device to device.

Identity resolution enables brands to serve both content and associated ads to readers based on their known interest and consumption habits, rather than ‘likely’ qualities. This people-based approach to marketing creates a personalised experience for the reader, and a more valuable proposition for advertisers.

Identity resolution provides a holistic view of individual consumers, allowing brands to increase the number of touchpoints they can reach consumers with online and gives them the ability to target highly segmented audiences. Placing the consumer experience at the forefront of publisher’s strategies in this manner, brands can deliver a far more relevant and authentic experience to keep consumers engaged.

Publishers need to move to a People-based way of looking at the world, so they can effectively monetise their platforms by guaranteeing access to the consumers that advertisers are trying to reach, all within a ‘privacy compliant’ means.

Forrester describes the need to “support fluidity between devices, interactions and data sources”[1], which can be achieved through identity resolution. Similarly, LiveRamp’s recent report The State of People-Based Marketing showed 84% of marketers want to unify their people-based marketing strategies across Google and Facebook with what they do in all digital channels. This is now possible for all publishers large or small.

With the ability to know exactly who is visiting your site and what their individual preferences are, can publishers ignore the benefits identity resolution will bring?

Richard Foster, UK Managing Director at LiveRamp

[1] https://lp.liveramp.com/Forrester-Report-LP.html

About LiveRamp:

LiveRamp UK is a leading data company offering identity resolution that is integrated throughout the digital ecosystem, providing brands and their partners with the foundation for true omnichannel marketing. Its services aim to transform the technology platforms used by its clients into true ‘people-based marketing channels’. 

Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash

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