‘Be more consultative’: Insider is launching a first-party audience tool

Insider Inc. has developed a first-party data ad targeting and reporting tool called Sága that the publisher says offers contextual and behavioral targeting, deeper information on readers and real-time campaign reporting. The goal is to give marketers more sophisticated tools that rely on its first-party data, rather than third-party cookies, that still drive results while putting consumer privacy first.

Sága uses Insider’s first-party data based on consumer behavior and actions they take on sites like Business Insider, rather than by who they are. It has three main functions: The first is to identify 100% of the users on its sites across mobile and desktop, including audiences using browsers like Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox, who have clamped down on third-party cookies for cross-site tracking. The tool also helps uncover additional information about marketer’s audience to shape campaigns. Sága also reports on campaign performance in real-time, which is helpful in mobile environments where third-party cookies have long failed to effectively target and measure mobile ads.

Insider has been testing Sága with 20 different clients including running its own house ads for its premium subscription tier, BI Prime. As well as its pool of logged-in users, Insider has scale: Business Insider had 127 million monthly unique users globally in December according to Comscore. Stitching together different these data sets and systems has been complex, said Jana Meron, senior vice president programmatic and data strategy.

“We’re only bringing in deterministic first-party data,” she said. “It’s less about telling us the email address to target [audiences] with. It’s ‘did they fill out a mortgage calculator or take a survey?’ This data will inform the strategy which will inform audience targeting which provides insights. It’s an endless loop and all the data informs the content we create.”

For over a year the publisher has worked with first-party data-based data-management platform Permutive. The vendor’s DMP provides a single, unduplicated view of an individual across different devices such as desktop and mobile web and in-app. Insider first-party data is then mapped to each ID, based on how that specific user interacts with Insider’s sites, like what they read on its site, how often, whether they came from Facebook or Google search and on what device.

A strategic goal is to become more consultative to clients, said Meron. In a recent case for a financial client, which typically used third-party data to reach its niche audience, Insider’s first-party data audience segment drove 11% higher click-through rate against the client’s existing third-party data audience segment. As a result, the client renewed with Insider’s first-party data as core to the plan.

Insider declined to share revenue details but said Sága will grow programmatic ad revenue by growing the size of campaigns and increasing repeat bookings. According to Meron, it has already won the publisher new business. Insider will also save money by cutting down on third-party data sources. The publisher will offer Sága to all clients regardless of campaign size or spend and will be on every request for proposal from advertisers.

Previously, Insider would have been more reactive to briefs rather than being able to influence them, said Michael Ogunjobi, senior customer success manager at Permutive. “They have been building up that holistic view of audiences to compel advertisers to come on board,” he said.

Browser crackdown on third-party cookies and tightening privacy regulations mean that more publishers like Immediate Media and The Washington Post are flexing their first-party data targeting capabilities. Now, there has been a shift in behavior from the buy-side who are increasingly asking for more first-party audiences in RFPs. Publishers are seeing that demand increase, according to Permutive.

Rather than license the tool to other publishers and generate an additional revenue stream, like The Washington Post does with its first-party data targeting platform Zeus Insights, Insider will use Sága as a point of difference in the market. Insider said the investment in technology and training its staff has been significant.

“This is the vision we have for where we want to take business and be more consultative,” said Meron. “This is a move away from demographics and third-party data which has proven itself to be not very valuable. This vision precedes cookies and is more about a better product rather than a reaction to the industry.”

For Sága, getting a clear read on the whole audience on desktop and mobile has piqued agency interest, said Meron.

“If a publisher has phenomenal scale and can deliver good reach and frequency then they are in a good position if they can apply that comprehensively,” said Dan Chapman, managing director, products and solutions at Havas Media Group. The issue with any publisher’s own solutions, he cautioned, is coercing planners to use more than one audience targeting tool against multiple publishers and how that can scale.

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Insider wouldn’t share how much the browser crackdown on cookies has impacted its revenue. On average, 46% of publisher traffic came from Safari and Firefox across the Permutive network in January. This is traffic that can not be monetized with data on the open marketplace.

In October, Insider told Digiday that mapping its first-party data to Permutive’s ID led to growth in programmatic direct deals, private marketplace deals and programmatic guaranteed deals. Both the volume of deals and the amount of advertising bought per deal has risen by double digits, in some cases triple-digits.

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