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How Insider Inc. leverages first-party data for its partners

September 21, 2020 | By Kristy Schafer, VP Americas – Permutive @Permutive

About Insider Inc.

Insider Inc. is the parent of Business Insider and its general interest news and lifestyle sibling, Insider. Insider is one of the world’s largest digital news platforms, with a global audience of 275 million. The company was founded in 2007 with the launch of Business Insider, which now has 14 editions around the globe and is published in eight languages.

The challenge

Insider, Inc. wanted to gain a more holistic understanding of its audiences to better serve advertisers

Insider faced challenges connecting data across its sites and getting a holistic view of its audience. It wanted to understand programmatic buying behavior and learn which audiences advertisers were looking for. Insider knew that this information would help it to inform editorial and content strategies as well as ad pricing and packaging. To increase the value of advertising on its site, the company needed a solution to connect all the different data pieces in its arsenal. 

The Solution

Insider and Permutive build first-party data platform, SÁGA

Insider worked with Permutive’s Data Management Platform to create SÁGA (named after the Norse goddess of history and storytelling). The platform was designed to better understand users and their behavior in order to make tailored recommendations for advertisers and partners. 

The platform has three key components:

  • ‘Audience’ enables audience segmentation for effective ad targeting
  • ‘Inform’ empowers strategic content creation recommendations
  • ‘Insights’ provides real-time data to improve campaign performance

The results so far

With a first-party data strategy and an efficient way to view audience data, Insider helps advertisers tailor their campaigns and improve engagement. Now, Insider is better able to:

Create bespoke segments for advertisers

With SÁGA, Insider can discern more than five billion user data points each month. These include: content consumption, engagement frequency, where traffic comes from, and ad clicks — just to name a few. Using this data, Insider can create valuable, bespoke segments for its advertisers. For example, the Insider ‘business influencers’ cohort consists of users that consumed content on the Insider platform over the last week on finance or technology verticals, or as part of subscription-driven stories. To these segments, Insider is also able to overlay third-party data, such as job title or industry. 

Tailor content and advertising to users 

With better analytics tools, Insider can now discover which content resonates best with different audiences. This helps advertisers make smarter decisions about their content and advertising strategies. For example, Insider found that readers of small business content are often likely to be interested in pet stories. This insight led to a banking advertiser creating a unique campaign that spotlighted how a pet-themed small business worked with said company.

“It’s about understanding behavior. While respecting user privacy, we are able to discern a lot about our readers from what they do on our platform. Our goal is to better serve our audience — and our partners — with actionable insights based on what we know about behavior.”

Jana Meron, SVP Programmatic & Data Strategy, Insider Inc.

Leveraging more granular audience data helps advertisers reach the right users at the right time with the right message on Insider. This works regardless of whether the browser blocks third-party cookies, which is a a growing reality for publishers.

Showcase the value of first-party data

Today data provided by SÁGA informs all campaigns running on Insider Inc. sites. Each campaign begins with a tailored strategy that aims to meet the specific goals of a given RFP. 

“First-party data goes beyond the authenticated web to gauge how readers engage on our platform. This has tremendous value.” 

-– Jana Meron, SVP Programmatic & Data Strategy, Insider Inc.

For example, Insider worked with a financial client with strict audience targeting parameters. The advertiser had always relied on third-party data. Insider conducted an A/B test comparing a campaign using first-party data with one relying on third-party data. The result was that the first-party data segment outperformed by +11% against the advertiser’s KPI (+11% first-party versus third-party segment).

Insider Inc. continues to improve its first-party data strategy

Insider has had success with its approach to first-party data but is just getting started. The company plans to make additional improvements, such as:

  • Creating a rich taxonomy by adding Natural Language Processing (NLP) to SÁGA. This will provide better targeting options for advertisers so they can reach their audiences across different parts of the Insider platform. 
  • Collecting more first-party data. Insider believes that the number of logged-in users at any time will be less than 25% of total traffic. It wants to ensure its campaigns can scale by including behavioral and contextual data alongside that declared data. It gathers first-party data from multiple sources, including newsletters, on-site calculators, and surveys. 
  • Educating the advertising market. In addition to helping to educate its advertising partners about the benefits of first-party data, Insider is committed to spreading the word to the larger advertising community.

Insider is actively preparing for diminution of third-party cookies by focusing on a first-party data strategy. Through its use of SÁGA ,the company now has a radically improved view of its audiences that can greatly benefit its partners as well as readers and viewers.

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