Advertising Guest Columns
4 mins read

How publishers can help advertisers fill the data void

With the replacement of Google’s Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) with ‘Topics’ and the extension of the Privacy Sandbox to Android, the digital marketing industry is reminded yet again of the difficult balance between effective audience targeting and data privacy. 

Using first-party data is a viable solution to this problem, and while marketers may have restricted pools of their own, publishers have this valuable resource in abundance. In the coming cookieless world, publishers will be ideally placed to provide advertisers with valuable insights from these data pools for more precise targeting.

So, how can publishers leverage their granular data assets to fill the void left by ongoing privacy changes and restrictive targeting solutions proposed by the tech giants? And what tools can they use to maximize their first-party data to provide advertisers with dynamic and enriched insights?

Privacy changes continue to rock the boat

Amid concerns that their FLoC’s audience cohorts could still enable user tracking, Google has instead opted for ‘Topics’, offering category-based consumer insights. Five top categories, taken from a pool of 350, are assigned to individuals each week, with three chosen at random and shared with advertisers for targeting purposes.

While this proposal further protects users’ identities, some industry commentators are concerned that the topics within the framework are too generic to provide granular insights and enable accurate targeting. In turn, ad relevance could diminish. Furthermore, future campaign optimization can be restricted with the information available to advertisers based only on non-specific interests, making it difficult to plan.

Against an existing backdrop of diminishing identifiers, with Apple’s App Tracking Transparency already creating additional steps for data collection, this latest move from Google intensifies the urgency of finding viable privacy-compliant alternatives. This is where publishers come in.

Why are publishers so valuable?

Publishers can leverage their close and trusted audience relationships to generate a stable flow of first-party data via signup data, login details, email addresses, and demographic information. This makes them more likely to gain consent to collect and use audience data than many less established or smaller brands, who don’t always have direct relationships with consumers. As a result, publishers can offer advertisers contextually relevant inventory based on their in-depth understanding of their audiences. 

Publishers also have other strengths: the vast amount of interactions between users and owned websites within untapped data points. These interactions, such as competition entries, website searches, and clicks to affiliated links, are invaluable indicators of audience behaviours that publishers can easily collect and process to generate enriched user insights, all without personally identifying individuals. 

Publishers’ strengths mentioned above are perhaps more in demand than ever, as their insightful layers of audience information can complement and add depth to the somewhat restricted provisions from cookieless targeting solutions, such as Google’s Topics. In addition, with proposed tools leaning towards more broad, category-based insights, publishers can share more granular contextual insights around each segment if they can dynamically amend overall topics. The opportunity, therefore, exists to generate higher revenue streams from partnerships by collaborating with advertisers to determine their priority topics and supplying greater depth to improve their campaign results.

While publishers have access to vast amounts of information about their audiences, many are yet to understand and convert this data source into valuable, actionable insights. However, with the help of intelligent marketing platforms, publishers can analyze large amounts of user interaction data to unlock helpful information for advertisers and enhance existing user profiles. 

Making first-party data go further

Data sets can often be disparate or limited and may contain missing details, but intelligent technology and AI-powered tools can maximize any available information.

Firstly, it helps to sort disordered data sets into singular, accessible formats which are easy to analyze and understand. This includes identifying any gaps in the data and using a holistic approach to create a complete view of the user journey, allowing for more precise targeting and segmentation. Moreover, with the help of AI, publishers can supply advertisers with forward-looking insights, rather than purely reflective, using predictive modeling, whereby behavioral outcomes are anticipated based on historical data.

In addition to reflective and predictive data, AI solutions also help publishers increase their addressability through lookalike modeling; taking insights from specific consumer cohorts allows advertisers to adapt content to appeal to similar audience segments. In turn, publishers can therefore provide advertisers with a broader audience reach. 

Jürgen Galler, CEO and Co-founder, 1plusX

Moreover, publishers can be transparent and provide a complete picture of audience cohorts and engagement, in contrast to the black boxes of walled gardens. They can, therefore not only fill the gaps left by the absence of third-party cookies and give marketers the tools to predict consumer desires and optimize future campaigns.

Players in the digital ecosystem are continually being reminded of their reliance on diminishing audience data. Therefore, it is more important than ever for publishers to enrich their first-party data stores and utilize privacy-compliant targeting solutions to assist advertisers. 

Used in the right way, AI-powered tools can give publisher data a dynamism lacking in simplified alternatives, providing advertisers with broad, addressable audiences. As a result, publishers can be a hugely valuable source of audience insights to either independently educate marketing campaigns or collaboratively enhance tech giants’ solutions – providing advertisers with the granular data they still crave for effective targeting.

Jürgen Galler
CEO and Co-founder, 1plusX

1plusX, a marketing intelligence platform, enables leading media companies and brand marketers to unlock the full potential of their data. Developed by two ex-Google directors, 1plusX’s technology is powered by state-of-the-art AI algorithms that recognize patterns in user behavior across client data assets. In real-time, those are transformed into predictions and meaningful customer insights. With teams in Switzerland, Germany, Paris and Singapore, 1plusX brings together international experts in product management and engineering.