Advertising Guest Columns
5 mins read

As buyers move closer to the sell-side, publishers have an opportunity to deliver new value

TL;DR: Publishers have suffered far too long from giving away control to the Big Tech giants and, at such an early stage in the addressability landscape, they now have a unique opportunity to rebalance the power dynamic. This needs to be based on deeper, longer-term relationships with brands through adaptability, value creation and choice, writes Peter Barry, VP of Addressability, PubMatic.

Despite Google’s new 2024 deadline to deprecate third-party cookies from the Chrome browser, digital advertisers are forging ahead with alternative identity strategies that can work across channels where third-party cookies are already limited or don’t exist, such as on the iPhone and CTV. Savvy marketers are starting to explore how they can redesign their data targeting strategies by activating data closer to the consumer in order to protect performance and ROI. But publishers need to be active participants in developing the solutions, both to drive innovation but also to retain control over their long-term revenue streams.

Open As Many Doors as Possible

Publishers have plenty of battle scars to prove the dangers of giving away control. From Google to Facebook, publishers have seen what happens when they put all of their eggs in one basket rather than using technology to empower them to connect with brands on their own terms. A simple change to an algorithm, or a decision not to share a certain insight can dramatically affect a publisher’s revenue. Google’s recent timeline change highlighted this dependency once again. In the addressability game, the stakes are even higher. It’s not just about demand for impressions, it’s also about the value of audience data and relationships with brands. 

At the end of 2021, Google created new data-sharing capabilities for publishers. Called “Publisher Provided Identifiers” these so-called PPIDs are designed to give publishers new opportunities to leverage their user data to attract buyers. In January, Amazon and LiveRamp announced a partnership that integrated their Automated Traffic Solution (ATS) with Amazon Publisher Services (APS). 

To make sure they maintain their leverage while also taking advantage of buyers’ interest in closer relationships on the sell side, publishers must create a priority list of what matters most to them — from ensuring that their data is kept safe, to enabling as wide a variety of different targeting approaches as possible to attract demand.  

Of course, from a technical standpoint, this is easier said than done, but starting the conversations is key. Publishers should be prioritizing based on longer-term outcomes, not immediate access to demand and revenue. Publishers need to have flexibility and control, but they also need to remember that brands are looking to forge long-term partnerships on the sell side, and now is the time to create win-win solutions.

There are many new elements that brands and publishers are considering, from which data clean rooms to align with to which new preferred partnerships to sign. Today, more is more. Publishers that have more conversations get smarter faster.

Diversify Your Data

A critical part of the conversation for publishers should be around data collaboration. Rather than go with one data signal or partner, publishers benefit from having many. Media buyers are still in experimentation mode when it comes to selecting addressability strategies, and their decisions sometimes differ not only by company but also by campaign objective. By ensuring that they are passing a variety of data signals – from multiple ID providers, to contextual signals, to first-party data segments – publishers can create more avenues to connect data with advertisers. As we learned with header bidding, more demand for inventory results in greater revenue for publishers; we can take the same lesson in the addressability space – more addressable supply should result in monetization benefits.

There are two elements for publishers to consider. The first is making it as easy as possible for brands to work with them. When publishers have ready access to different IDs, then brands can work with publishers with less development time. Additionally, publishers should ensure that their addressability technology enables not only interoperability but also experimentation, so they can test and learn alongside the market around which addressability signals work best for their business, and their buyers. 

The second factor is standardization. Third-party cookies worked consistently across sites for targeting and measurement, and minimizing development time. Now that buyers are activating against a variety of signals, publishers and their tech partners have an opportunity to develop new standards that will increase interoperability as well as performance against these new signals. Publishers need to work to support the development of standards to increase interoperability across these new signals.

Balance Short-Term Opportunity and Long-Term Value

It is easy to prioritize options that deliver immediate revenue lift, and this is even more relevant in the current macroeconomic climate. Studies have shown that alternative identifiers can provide meaningful revenue lift, particularly in cookieless browsers like Safari and Firefox. Publishers should be exploring and adopting solutions to take advantage of this opportunity in the short-term. 

However, it is important that publishers also weigh the long-term impacts of their decisions – particularly decisions that involve their proprietary first-party data. As cookie-based targeting disappears, publishers’ data assets are going to become increasingly valuable, and publishers need to ensure that they remain in control of how their data and audiences are accessed. Their data is a critical asset, and ensuring maximum demand for that asset, while keeping it secure, is a key component of long-term growth. They should speak with their partners and technology providers about how their assets are protected, how data leakage is being prevented, and how they can best monetize the data signals that they have available.

At this early stage in the addressability landscape, publishers have a unique opportunity to rebalance the power dynamic. By focusing on adaptability, value creation and choice, publishers can become better partners with brands, whilst ensuring user experience and privacy is respected.

Peter Barry
VP of Addressability, PubMatic

PubMatic, Inc. (Nasdaq: PUBM) is an independent technology company maximizing customer value by delivering digital advertising’s supply chain of the future. PubMatic’s sell-side platform empowers the world’s leading digital content creators across the open internet to control access to their inventory and increase monetization by enabling marketers to drive return on investment and reach addressable audiences across ad formats and devices. Since 2006, our infrastructure-driven approach has allowed for the efficient processing and utilization of data in real-time. By delivering scalable and flexible programmatic innovation, we improve outcomes for our customers while championing a vibrant and transparent digital advertising supply chain.