How publishers are unlocking ad revenue with privacy-first media

Amid the phasing out of traditional identifiers and changes to data privacy laws, publishers are increasingly prioritizing first-party data to safeguard their ad revenue and monetize audiences.

Research by BCG found that advertisers leveraging first-party data, such as the information shared by publishers, to personalize messaging are seeing double-digit improvement in ad performance. 

For first-party data to be a secure and sustainable advertising strategy, publishers rely on privacy-preserving technology to mitigate the risk of data collaboration. According to research from IAB, 78% of U.S. marketers are using data management platforms, which allow advertisers to organize and activate data for targeted campaigns. Additionally, 64% of companies leveraging privacy-preserving technology, including publishers and advertisers, are using data clean rooms — a privacy-focused approach to matching their audiences with their advertising partners’ ideal customers.

As DMPs and DCRs become more sophisticated, publishers are unlocking new and additional audience modeling and activation capabilities for their advertising partners. For example, according to IAB, improved data enrichment unlocks an increased understanding of behavioral and contextual signals.

“Privacy-centric changes have accelerated, all while advertisers are looking to bring in audience data into their planning, targeting and measurement processes,” said Bennett Crumbling, head of marketing at Optable. “In this environment, publishers need innovative data collaboration solutions to build sustainable revenue growth and deliver great content experiences to their audiences.”

Publishers are securely monetizing audiences through data collaboration

The demand for consumer privacy is shifting audience-based media buying back to publishers. 

While DMPs have long been seen as centralized environments that enable multiple parties to share, organize, and activate data, publishers find that many of these platforms don’t meet their privacy needs. As Crumbling explained, many legacy DMPs can’t support data clean room collaboration and scalable real-time audience activation across sites and devices. Similarly, earlier data clean rooms were not designed for media companies to share data directly with advertising partners for secure collaboration and analysis. 

“Media owners are reevaluating their data strategies in the wake of massive shifts driven by privacy and, as a result, are having to take a closer look at the pieces of their technology stacks,” Crumbling said. “These changes are ultimately opportunities for publishers to take back more control over their data and build sustainable growth via better monetization practices.”

Secure first-party data collaboration enabled by more robust data clean rooms is essential for privacy-safe media and ad products. Beyond privacy compliance and improved data sharing, privacy-safe media allows publishers to monetize their hard-earned first-party audience data by safely collaborating with advertising partners and offering premium ad products that leverage those insights. Meanwhile, advertisers gain access to data as well as addressable and relevant readers.

Privacy-safe media is helping publishers meet advertiser expectations

The next generation of DMPs and DCRs emphasize seamless collaboration and interoperability, meaning publishers can better support their advertising partners and offer bespoke data offerings rather than sticking to a one-size-fits-all approach. Insights from data collaboration can also help publishers secure commitments from new brand verticals and previously difficult-to-reach markets.

For publishers and advertisers shifting to a privacy-first mindset, the approach encompasses functionalities such as forecasting audience behaviors, creating lookalike models, retargeting and sharing sales data to measure ROAS. The evolution of their use cases stands to transform the way advertisers can plan future campaigns.

“As technology evolves, there’s going to be other more creative approaches to how clean rooms get implemented in order to share attributes that maybe only the publisher or retail media partner has, which might result in a brand better understanding who their audience is and weaving this into their ad planning,” Crumbling said.

Privacy-preserving technology is unlocking more effective ad campaigns — and driving publisher revenue

One publisher working with privacy-safe media is Canada’s La Presse. The online newspaper, which can directly identify 70% of its reader base through first-party data, has invested in data clean room capabilities to grow direct sales.

By sharing data directly with La Presse, advertisers such as VIA Rail build more targeted plans, optimize campaign spend and gain better insights about their efforts.

Through this collaborative approach to clean room media, the publisher has also secured more commitments and renewals from strategic ad partners in key verticals and markets.

In 2022, these collaborative campaigns, built on the foundation of first-party data investment, contributed to a 9% year-over-year increase in total ad revenue at La Presse. For the 2022 financial year, the publisher achieved a net profit of $11 million.

“Both publishers and advertisers have leaned into the idea of using first-party data to build direct touchpoints with customers. It’s been about collecting data in exchange for a better and more relevant media product,” Crumbling said. 

“Now, it’s becoming a question of how we can use that data in a more informed way when it comes to media activation?” he continued. “Advertisers are getting creative with publishers’ first-party data in the planning and sales process, and it all functions through clean rooms.”

While DMPs and DCRs have long offered publishers ways to understand and leverage their audiences more effectively, the future of data collaboration hinges on more sophisticated measurement capabilities and seamless paths to activating data. Equipped with these tools, publishers are developing bespoke data offerings for advertising partners to harness clean room media.

Sponsored by Optable

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