Digital Publishing Reader Revenue
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Using data to drive revenue: The future of adtech

One of the most fascinating sessions of the FIPP World Media Congress 2020 was a panel debate about how data can be used to drive publisher revenue. Dan Gilbert, Director of Data and Bedir Aydemir, Head of Audience and Data at News UK  along with Aarti Suri, Senior Customer Success Manager, Permutive, UK  discussed a number of topics from what the future of data will be without access to data from third parties, to the challenges of communicating the importance of data to sales people.

The session was hosted by Permutive, a publisher DMP (data management platform) which focuses on enabling publishers to better understand their use of data and thereby explore new monetisation options.

Here Aarti Suri, Senior Customer Success Manager at Permutive, explains how Permutive works,  what its key offerings to publishers are and what the future of adtech looks like.

So tell me a little about the history of Permutive? What were the key challenges you are trying to solve?

Permutive is a publisher DMP. We launched in the UK three years ago and have recently expanded across Europe and the US. Permutive started it’s DMP to solve a significant problem for publishers who were losing large volumes of their audience because of two reasons. Browsers began to block third-party cookies and they couldn’t target their passer-by users. Existing providers were built on third-party cookies and were too slow to process data because they relied on the cloud. Permutive does not rely on third-party cookies and processes all data in on device, using edge computing. This allows publishers to see, understand and target all of their users enabling them to realise their true scale and generate more revenue. 

Google has signalled the demise of the 3rd party cookie. What impact will this have on the publishing industry?

It’s important to remember why 3rd party cookies are being deprecated. Third party cookies allow companies to track users across domains and build really detailed profiles of individual users. The entire programmatic industry has been built on top of these third-party cookies and identity. This data however has been harvested without the user knowing which goes against the spirit of GDPR and CCPA. Some browsers have taken a zero-tolerance to third party cookies like Safari and FireFox who made a move to block them three years ago. In these environments publishers still have the ability to understand users on their domains as they have a direct relationship with them. As third-party cookies go away this puts publishers in a powerful position as they hold the keys of two important criteria, they have a 1 to 1 legal relationship with users and they have the inventory to append that user data on domain. 

And what are the challenges publishers are facing, and how are you helping them to fix this?

Most publishers are currently media companies. They produce great content that they monetise through advertising. However, this is changing, as data becomes the currency for digital advertising, publishers are starting to transition into data and technology companies where they have to have the tools in place to productise their offering to advertisers and agencies. We help publishers make this transition every day. It starts by helping them with their first-party data strategy and helping them change their narrative. This then evolves into internal training and sales. 

Companies that achieve a smooth roll out are the ones that understand the importance of owning and the value of data not just for advertising but the entirety of the business so make data-driven decisions.

Could you give some examples of the companies you are working with?

We work with publishers across the world like Immediate Media, NewsUK, The Guardian, ESI, The Telegraph, The Financial Times, BuzzFeed, Bell Media, Choueiri Group, Business Insider, Penske are just a few of our customers. 

When deploying new data solutions and products how does one get buy-in internally, in particular the sales teams? What’s key when educating other teams?

Implementing a new DMP can sometimes feel like a big lift for companies. Companies that achieve a smooth roll out are the ones that understand the importance of owning and the value of data not just for advertising but the entirety of the business so make data-driven decisions. Publishers who succeed have and set clear objectives on transitioning into a first-Party data strategy and have a way to track and improve their first party data strategy This enables everyone involved to rally around a clear goal.

The key result against this goal is usually revenue. If you are going to implement new technology it is important to understand the impact it is having on your revenue. We see customers measure this immediately and have seen cases where publishers have seen an increase in revenue within the first month. Once you have implemented the technology, it’s important to work on your positioning and product offering.

How are you going to package your new offering? What data/audiences are going to differentiate you against others? How do you respond to RFPs? Do you know why you win some RFPs over another? Once you have this then training is essential. Everyone on the sales team has to learn a new narrative and feel confident to deliver your new offering. We spend a lot of time in our customer success team helping publishers to make this shift.

I think the big shift is that the innovation is going to come from technologies that have relationships with publishers.

What innovations are on the horizon?

As we think about what the “rebuilding” of ad-tech and the future looks like, it’s important to understand what the open web will look like in 18 months time. Because of privacy, publishers are becoming walled gardens where data can go in but will not come out. This presents an enormous opportunity for publishers.

We see the web splitting in two. There will be a small proportion of the web that will be authenticated (<10 per cent). Where both advertiser and publisher will know the user through some form of identifier like an email address. All other users will be anonymous (>90 per cent). These are users that will be unknown to the advertiser but known to the publisher. The publisher will still be able to segment and target these users using their own first-party data. In order for an advertiser to buy these users they will need to work closer with the publishers and use technology to enable this.  

There are a number of solutions and proposals that are currently in the market. I think the big shift is that the innovation is going to come from technologies that have relationships with publishers. The sell-side will need to come together and work on providing access to their users and data in a privacy compliant way. 

We are building solutions to solve this and ensuring advertisers can use publisher data in an efficient way and at scale to achieve the same outcomes, without having that data leave the publisher ecosystem or compromising on privacy.

What advice would you give publishers that are looking to improve their data strategy?

A few of the questions I encourage my publishers to ask themselves are: do you understand what data you have? What do your advertisers / agency partners are looking for? Are their trends in these responses? Do your data products fulfil their needs? What data is missing? What data are you reliant on via 3P vendors and how can you collect this yourself?  

Once you have the answers to these questions you can start to build a strategy on how you might collect that data and/or if that data already exists in another part of the business and how you might connect the dots between declared, behavioural and contextual data. Data is immensely valuable, however, make sure to understand why you are collecting this information and ultimately what revenue or efficiencies can be driven from this data to deliver solutions both for your advertisers but also business use cases such as growing affiliate or subscription revenue. 

Publishers must remember they are more than just a media company, they have advertising, affiliate, subscription businesses as well and if you are effectively able to combine data points across the business that add value to each unit and productise this effectively you will win in a world without 3P cookies.

Ashley Norris

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