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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Data collaboration gives power to the publishers

March 27, 2024 | By Dave Chokshi, Director of Client Services – Lotame @Lotame
The topline: Given the major shifts in the advertising data landscape, it is critical that media companies develop solutions that satisfy marketers' needs. 

Over the last few years, publishers and digital marketers have been preparing their data capabilities to withstand third-party cookie deprecation and heightened privacy regulations. Data scarcity is the challenge. And the clear solution is data sharing between trusted business partners who stand to benefit mutually. 

No wonder we’ve seen a variety of data clean room options emerge as a means for publishers and advertisers to share and match audiences. But now, the industry is taking a much-needed step forward. Data collaboration platforms have emerged as essential tools for marketers’ new customer acquisition efforts. And publisher data is what makes successful collaboration possible.

The deep data insights that marketers can gain from publishers is of heightened value right now. This puts publishers in the driver’s seat, giving them leverage in the ad buy and positioning them as essential partners to marketers. Deepening these partnerships allows publishers to win commitments and preferential deals from marketers.

For any media executives that are wary about sharing their data, it’s time to take a closer look at the controls that are possible today. Publishers can safely and privately permission parts of their audience, pseudonymously, for purposes of learning, analysis, modeling, and segmentation. 

Contrary to one lingering misunderstanding in the industry, clean rooms are built for more than authentication alone. They are, in fact, useful to media companies even if they don’t have a great amount of emails to use as matching identifiers. Data collaboration allows businesses to unify and analyze data from any internal sources – breaking down old data silos – along with data from external partners. 

Even if publishers don’t have a lot of data on email, they can still benefit from this technology. In fact, this data can include subscribers who log-in, as well as data from content consumers who don’t need to authenticate for access. All of this can considerably grow the amount of data available for analysis and activation, a more comprehensive solution than most traditional clean rooms alone. It can also be a more direct and less resource-heavy arrangement than what some data clean rooms offer. 

The value in a fuller picture of the buyer’s path

Of course, as with a clean room, a data collaboration platform is only as effective and valuable as the data that goes into it. And the overwhelming share of brand marketers will find that because they have limited touchpoints with consumers, they have a limited view of the buyer’s journey. CPGs, for example, are big digital spenders whose overall ROI is threatened by their shortage of direct interactions with consumers. 

And for any industry vertical, the longer the path to purchase, the larger the marketer’s data blind spots. It’s easy to imagine the implications for industries like automotive, real estate, or travel and hospitality: The consumer will spend a great deal of time researching their purchases, but the brand doesn’t own the data from the overwhelming bulk of sites and apps where that engagement happens. Publishers do. 

Therefore, publishers play an absolutely crucial role in data collaboration. They have the leverage in this scenario to drive greater value from the data that they own and marketers need. When marketers are able to analyze their consumers’ browsing patterns across platforms and devices, they can develop a deeper understanding of consumer behavior and preferences, which can make targeting and personalization more relevant and effective.

Newfound scale brings newfound ad revenue opportunities

To envision how data collaboration works, consider how a brand might start with data from their qualified leads – logged-in or deeply engaged users on their own sites and apps – and combine it with a publisher’s data. Keep in mind that many data collaboration platforms rely on an identifier, such as a hashed email, for matching purposes. But this will limit a business’s statistically significant data set to be analyzed. It’s important to open the field to a larger data set – which will entail finding the options that work beyond email identifiers to enable a greater audience overlap. 

Patterns in content consumption unlock consumer interest insights that might not have otherwise been obvious or intuitive to marketers. For a real estate company, for example, the marketer won’t be able to overhear in-person conversations between prospective homebuyers and realtors. But content consumption habits can help suggest what a buyer’s longer-term concerns might be – interest in colleges, financial planning, and products for children of specific age groups. Content consumption insights can also provide a wealth of information that enables targeting and personalization on pages that are relevant to the individual consumer, but not directly related to the brand’s own vertical. 

Without data from publishers, marketers simply wouldn’t be able to fill out the consumer’s profile this way and reach them in a wider variety of relevant settings. Media companies are now empowered to present a bespoke data package to a preferred advertiser partner, full of uniquely valuable insights and recommendations. And the monetization benefits go beyond attracting new advertisers and drawing existing advertisers closer. There’s also an opportunity for publishers to increase CPMs overall, in tandem with the increase of their data’s value to advertisers.

Becoming an advertisers’ essential partner

Throughout the industry’s process of reshaping how data is used, most businesses have found that first-party data tied to email identifiers, taken on their own, simply aren’t sufficient. Publishers’ data leverage in the ad marketplace becomes even greater with data collaboration platforms. In exchange, publishers can deepen relationships with their preferred advertisers, position themselves to bring new partnership ideas to the table, and win newfound ad spend from brands in verticals and markets they may not have even considered before. 

Through data collaboration, media companies can grant advertisers the ability to discover, reach, engage, and retain their best consumers efficiently. They are able to effectively save advertisers from wasted spend, irrelevant targeting, and reliance on multiple point solutions. That’s a very valuable proposition in today’s data landscape, where consumer attention is fleeting. Publishers need to take advantage of powerful data collaboration solutions to cement their place in marketers’ budgets and in the media marketplace well into the future.

About the author

Dave Chokshi Lotame

Dave Chokshi is Director of Client Services at Lotame, responsible for managing enterprise publisher accounts in the North America region. Dave brings nearly a decade of industry experience to his client services role, having worked at Comscore and PGR Media. 

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