How signal collaboration is unlocking the power of publisher first-party data

As the value of legacy identifiers declines, publishers are rethinking their advertising strategies and seeking alternative ways to demonstrate the value of their hard-earned audiences. The change underway has significantly impacted the addressability of these audiences and made it more challenging for publishers to monetize their content effectively. 

In response, publishers are activating their first-party data as a durable, privacy-first and wholly-owned substrate to support ad targeting and personalization. For example, ranking highest among publishers in a recent survey, 47% believe activating their first-party signals is the most promising solution to cookie deprecation. This data includes audience events and behaviors at particular moments, indicating interests and affinities. 

“Every publisher we’ve talked to — whether a large broadcaster with a TV and digital ad business or one with a large web presence — is in a different stage of their journey in first-party data,” said Sharmilan Rayer, general manager at Amazon Publisher Cloud, built on AWS Clean Rooms. “For these publishers to be successful, they need to define and implement their first-party data strategy — even if they are starting from scratch — and engage with technology partners that can meet them where they are.”

Publishers and their advertising partners are also turning to interoperable audience and context-aware planning solutions to activate and measure their first-party data more effectively. By leaning on tools that will remain durable throughout future changes, such as clean room technology, publishers will be better equipped for secure first-party signal collaboration and can deliver improved advertising experiences to partners and audiences alike.

How signal collaboration solves addressability challenges

First-party signal collaboration powers addressability for publishers and advertisers alike. Securely analyzing data from multiple sources, including their trusted advertising partners, enriches publishers’ audience insights and improves campaign performance without relying solely on their data, resulting in more relevant and impactful partnerships. 

“Publishers are looking to surface a justification for how they package ad supply, and the more insights they have, the more performant that supply will be,” Rayer said. “That’s an investment on the planning insights side; how can I increase the likelihood that a campaign will be successful for the advertiser? The magic of the clean room collaboration is that it allows you to translate publisher contexts into advertiser goals instead of making marketers learn how to buy something new.” 

Publishers that combine different types of first-party signals are better positioned to attract advertisers. According to IAB research, 6 in 10 buyers will focus somewhat or significantly more on ad placements with publishers using first-party data in 2024.

“Signal collaboration between a publisher and an advertiser can also surface a complete picture of what happened post-campaign, without relying on any traditional identifiers or data movement,” Rayer explained. “That drives further investment for the publisher, and it drives the ROI calculation for the buyer.”

How publishers are navigating roadblocks to a holistic signal strategy

Publishers’ first-party data are one part of a holistic signal strategy, the breadth of which includes advertiser first-party, publisher-provided and third-party vendor signals. 

“Entities with first-party data need to be able to collaborate securely in a privacy-first manner,” Rayer said. “That’s the underlying construct of a clean room, where multiple parties can collaborate on data, but the data never moves. The only things that surface are aggregated outputs.”

However, secure first-party signal collaborations between these companies can be costly and operationally complicated. Additionally, publishers often need services purpose-built for their operations. 

“Publishers need a solution that is easy to integrate without a lot of technical lift and is highly interoperable so they can connect to many buyers and technology providers,” Rayer said. 

With streamlined first-party signal enrichment and turnkey monetization workflows, publishers find it easier and more affordable to leverage and benefit from clean-room-enabled technology.

“We view clean rooms as an enabling technology, not the end product,” Rayer added. “There are different flavors of what you can do with a clean room, but they provide the security, control and transparency that are fundamental elements in this new age.”

Signal collaboration enhances publishers’ digital campaign performance

An effective planning and collaboration solution brings publishers and advertisers closer together while equipping publishers to deliver highly addressable campaigns that protect customer insights and information. 

“With Amazon Publisher Cloud, we are directly connecting our premium content to commerce, powered by Amazon’s retail media insights,” said Brian Lin, senior vice president of product management at TelevisaUnivision. “These learnings empower us to provide Spanish-language advertisers with the supply that matters most for their goals while also improving customer experiences with more relevant advertising.”

By enriching their proprietary first-party signals with other first-party sources, publishers create highly customized inventory packages that better align with advertisers’ desired outcomes. Additionally, with campaign performance across the funnel — including reach, signal uplift and cost-per-click metrics — publishers demonstrate the value of their media and proprietary insights to advertisers.

“With APC, we proved content beats cookies,” said Dr. Jon Roberts, Chief Innovation Officer at Dotdash Meredith. “Using insights to run a cookieless back-to-school campaign through Amazon DSP, the campaign reached 1.5x the desired audience compared to an unoptimized campaign while also delivering 8x the number of relevant impressions on iOS and a 19% more efficient cost-per-click.”

In another use case, a publisher can aggregate Amazon Ads signals to gain insights into the market for premium pet food shoppers across its overall ad supply. By packaging content that indexes heavily for this market, a publisher drives maximum reach within an advertiser’s target audience.

“The overarching challenge publishers are looking to solve is driving monetization — attracting new advertisers and keeping existing advertisers happy,” Rayer said. “The publishers making investments into durable signal collaboration solutions are the ones that are best able to demonstrate the measurable value of their media.”

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