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How the Associated Press is charting its cookieless future

November 19, 2021 | By Travis Clinger, SVP, Head of Addressability And Ecosystem – LiveRamp @tclinger

As one of the world’s oldest and most respected publishers, the Associated Press (AP) knows the importance of preparing for changing times. Amidst the deprecation of third-party cookies, publishers are challenged with gaining control of their content to optimize yield and ultimately drive revenue. After seeing positive results leveraging an alternative to third-party cookies, the AP wanted to extend these capabilities to authenticate its audience across multiple channels.

Recently, I chatted with Brian Barth, Global Director of Digital Marketing Strategy at the AP, on why it was so important for the publisher to extend their solutions to mobile, and what advice he had for other publishers:

With the industry prioritizing first-party data, what are some of the strategies and tactics Associated Press is using to grow its first-party relationships?

We’re exploring all options. But right now our first-party strategy focuses almost exclusively on our newsletter offerings. We’re looking to grow subscribers and readers for our flagship daily Morning Wire, as well as for the new categories and editions of our newsletters we’re introducing — like the AP College Football Poll newsletter, The Huddle. Expanding into other newsletter titles allows us to build-on and develop new relationships, offer the reader unique experiences, and deliver the individualized content we know subscribers want through this meaningful value exchange. 

What sell-side challenges does AP face, specific to mobile? 

We are very much at the infancy of what we want our app to be. The audience and engagement are so very different then our desktop /mobile web reader. We understand that the experience has to align with their specific needs.The end of third-party cookies has given us an opportunity to re-evaluate our strategy and look for a solution that enables us to reach our audience and engage them more effectively, while also developing that first-party relationship that all publishers desire.

We’ve seen early success using LiveRamp’s Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS) on our desktop and mobile web property. With the results we’ve seen thus far on desktop and mobile web, it was a no-brainer to open up the conversation and piggyback on that success to our mobile app. 

We see an opportunity to drive a larger portion of our overall ad revenue through our own-and-operated AP app. We’ve considered that it would be the next phase of implementation. But we wanted to nail down the basics first — activating on our desktop and mobile web experiences first — before we extended activating ATS to our mobile app.  

How have authenticated solutions proven to be effective for the AP and its mobile advertisers? Can you give an example(s) or share any initial results at this point?

Partnering with an authenticated solution provided us the ability to be an early adopter in the identity solution space. It’s given us the opportunity to get a glimpse into what our future state needs to be and what results we can expect, without the inherent risks of doing it in real time when Google does deprecate the cookie.

The ability to have our first-party data work for us to improve value to our advertisers is a huge win for us. We’re still early in this process, but so far, seeing a tremendous percentage increase in CPMs after deploying on ATS—we’re seeing about 15,000 envelopes per day that are being deployed through PubMatic. These envelopes indicate users logging into the site experience or clicking through via a newsletter, showcasing the user’s willingness and understanding of the proposition of the value exchange. These authenticated users allow our advertisers to more smartly target these audiences more smartly for greater ROAS. We also have more authenticated volume, enabling us to create a deeper user experience, as well as revenue gains.

Anything else that you’d like to highlight from AP that could help other publishers in their goals to optimize yield, increase revenue, and/or create a 1:1 relationship with readers/users/viewers?

Don’t wait! Take the opportunity of “time” that Google provided to start building your first party data strategy if you haven’t already. The sooner you begin those conversations the sooner you’ll be able to start seeing the near term benefits of your first party data and begin future-proofing your advertising revenue. 

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