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How Penske Media achieved 100% addressability with first-party data: Case study

Widespread changes to consumer privacy and data sharing are creating ripple effects throughout the ad industry. For Penske Media Corporation, owner of iconic brands that include Variety, Rolling Stone, Billboard, SHE Media, and others, it’s a $multi-million challenge – how can it monetize its entire audience?

As consumers are increasingly being given more choices and methods to opt out of sharing their data for advertising purposes, whether via hiding their email, browsing in cookie-blocked environments or clicking “reject all” cookies, publishers are having to change the way they monetize their audiences.

With this in mind, Penske Media Corporation (PMC) endeavored to develop a sustainable and responsible strategy that would enable it to monetize the entirety of its audience across its portfolio. This strategy needed to include cookie-blocked and opted-out audiences, while respecting every user’s data choices, and it needed to be future-proofed.

By addressing the challenges at the outset and keeping respect for user privacy at the core of the project, PMC was able to increase revenue achieved from first-party data in 2022 by 46%.

Roadmap through challenges

Strategic partners

The first challenge was that this strategy would require a heavy focus on first-party data, and PMC required a partner that provided not only first-party data strategy expertise but also delivered a solution that could navigate the constantly evolving privacy landscape. To create its first-party data strategy, PMC worked with strategic partner and audience platform Permutive.

“It’s all too common for adtech companies to misuse, repurpose, and benefit from having direct access to publishers’ inventory and data. We wanted a partner that would use our full investment to focus on enabling the PMC team to drive value for its partners,“ said Brett Goverman, Head of Data Strategy at PMC.

Establishing the first-party foundations

PMC began the undertaking of creating an effective first-party data strategy by taking a step back and redefining what makes its content and audiences unique and desirable to advertisers.

Through this process, the digital media company identified the contextual strengths of its audience as its key differentiator. With its content spanning the entertainment, music, culture, fashion & beauty, luxury, and parenting categories, this would allow advertisers to focus on buying the audiences they wanted vs. buying on specific properties.

Identifying unique segments

The next challenge was to identify all the types of data being collected. PMC started by looking at the most used and/or requested segments, before partnering with Permutive to build more in-depth segmentation. An example of this is a broader segment for music enthusiasts, which then breaks down into segments for specific artists, genres, and decades.

It then used this information to create its very own data studio, Atlas Data Studio. Atlas’ role is to optimize and connect learnings across the publisher’s entire portfolio. Built on contextual, behavioral, proprietary, and enriched data sources, Atlas allows PMC to activate and target 100% of audiences for advertisers – even those in cookieless environments.

First-party forward

PMC credits their commitment to a rich first-party data strategy and their partnership with Permutive in addressing an audience whatever their consent status, or if they’ve arrived on the site within a cookie-blocked environment; the ability to target on the first-page view; and the ability to store data longer against particular audience cohorts through unlimited lookback windows.

As a result, 70% of PMC’s impressions were served with first-party data in 2022. There was also a fivefold increase in clickthrough rate in campaigns, and a fivefold increase in driving effective cost per acquisition was achieved for a clothing retailer. The strategy has also opened up PMC to more scale, as advertisers can access the audiences they’re looking for across verticals in one buy.

A real insight

Strong first-party data strategies enable publishers to create audience cards for each brand’s sales team –  capturing each brand’s core audience – and provide revenue insights, including open and private marketplace bid data. At the conclusion of a campaign, publishers are then able to help advertisers understand the individual behind each impression, creating a holistic view of an advertiser’s target audience without jeopardizing privacy.

With Permutive, PMC has the ability to do quick and in-depth analysis of our audiences and our performance to help our advertisers not only address and find their target audience but target them more effectively.

Brett Goverman, Head of Data Strategy at PMC