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Q&A: Peer39, understanding audiences through context

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Peer39 is an independent data company that provides the largest cookie-free data set available in the digital advertising ecosystem. Brands, agencies, and publishers use Peer39’s semantic analysis engine to provide a holistic understanding of page content, meaning, sentiment and quality. WNIP caught up with Mario Diez, Peer39’s CEO, to find out more…

Can you give us some more background about Peer39?

Founded in 2006, Peer39 was under the Sizmek umbrella from 2012 through to mid-2019. Myself and Alex White (COO) have come on board as the company’s new independent leadership. The company is headquartered in New York, with offices in London, Poland, and Israel.

As people’s time and attention become more fragmented, Peer39 believes that to succeed you need as much contextual understanding of your audience as possible. It’s as much about the digital environment as it is about the physical environment. Only then can you deliver the right ad to the right user in the right context.

The data we produce, helps advertisers and publishers buy and sell digital media around content that is in context, of quality, and is brand safe.

What business problem is your company addressing?

We provide advertisers and publishers with a lexicon to better position them to buy, sell, optimize and understand the context that a user is in while consuming and engaging with content in a digital environment.

There are a number of problems publishers are facing that we help with. These challenges typically stem from balancing the goals of the editorial staff, who are looking to drive as much readership to their articles as possible, with the aims of the advertising sales teams, who are looking for clean and consistent data with which to attract buyers.

The way in which advertisers and publishers are able to participate in programmatic is changing. Both sides are looking for strategies to ensure they can continue to meet their specific goals. With the introduction of GDPR, CCPA and ITP the strategies of both sides need to change. The good news is that what is old, is new again and so publishers, their name and their content will once again be a proxy for audience, regardless of cookies, or the understanding of users.

What is your core product addressing this problem?

At its core, Peer39 is a semantic classification engine for content. We classify content into data attributes that can be used to add consistency to the meaning, sentiment and quality of a piece of content, usually a web page. This enables advertisers to buy audiences from publishers in the moment and in the context that the user is engaging with that content.

Publishers are able to use our standard taxonomy of over 550 categories or build their own. They can sell contextually relevant media plans, use it for pre-emptive brand safety so that they are proactively protecting advertisers – resulting in less violation from the advertisers’ verification provider, or use the data for more accurate and consistent segmentation of their first-party audiences.

Peer39 helps publishers make more money by leveraging their own web pages to produce and sell media and data that is not reliant on cookies. 

Can you give some examples of publishers successfully using your solutions?

Publishers are finding success in a few key areas. For the most part, advertisers’ needs are expanding beyond general contextual and safety measures as they look for more page data at a granular level to ensure their advertising is suitable, safe and relevant. Our partnership with publishers means they can execute on these measures.

The second major advantage we provide publishers is helping them to understand the suitability of their content for brands, so they can secure spend from clients they may have been previously unable to work with. For example, many brands have eliminated news from their spend which is unfortunate given the value of the audience that news publishers represent. Our partnership with publishers allows them to start a fresh conversation with advertisers who have a renewed interested in having the flexibility to customize safety and suitability targeting.

Pricing?

Our products are priced depending on the use case. Our goal is to be cost-effective and easy to use so that publishers can make more money. Our licences are for our entire data set (context, quality, safety, sentiment, etc.) and are based on the size of the publisher. There are different use cases for advertisers, DSP and SSP relationships.

What are other people doing in the space and why?

Most competitors are heavily reliant upon keyword-based techniques. Keywords are great, and we use them as well, but we are using them to add further granularity to a semantic classification. Take for example ‘Food&Beverage>Recipes’ – this is a robust semantic classification that understands the page has a recipe. However, if a brand like Kraft is interested in cheese recipes, then we would overlay keywords like cheese, types of cheese, and brands of cheese over the semantic recipes category in order to provide the level of granularity needed.

Peer39 uses holistic semantic technology to analyse each page to get a full and precise understanding of the actual relationships between the words.  This is useful not only for contextual analysis but for brand safety as well.

Peer39 is the only provider in the space with scaled offerings for sentiment and data around the structure of the page; these are used to help advertisers understand quality.

How you do view the future?

Privacy and regulations are very much on everyone’s minds. With the focus on protecting user privacy, and moving away from cookies, the entire industry is looking to plot the best path forward. Third-party data providers may be in for some challenging times.

First-party data, and the ability to use it in a compliant way will always be a key part of anyone’s strategy, but beyond that we feel strongly that both advertisers and publishers will need to develop additional strategies that are less reliant on cookies. Contextual targeting and brand association with publishers is a strong value proposition for advertisers. Let’s face it, publishers have always been a proxy for audience. Third-party data was built on the backs of publishers. So it makes sense we offer advertisers an attractive form of targeting that is in full compliance, and cookie free. Context and other page-specific attributes can help advertisers to reach their target audiences at scale, regardless of a cookie.

Anything else we should know?

Some readers might have seen that Peer39 was owned by Sizmek over the last six years, but since August 2019 we have become an independent company again. There is a renewed focus on innovation and investment across all aspects of the business, and we look forward to communicating exciting new and interesting enhancements to the business in the coming months.

Thank you.

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