Data. It’s all over the news for one very important reason — it’s massively valuable.
The recent Facebook data scandal is having global implications on the handling of third-party data. Every time I open my email there’s another email about changing data policies and tightening up protections. And that’s a good thing for consumers.
But what about for publishers? Could this be a good thing for the publishing industry?
“With Facebook cutting off access to third-party data, Apple’s introduction of Intelligent Tracking Prevention, and GDPR looming, access to data is top of mind for publishers and advertisers alike,” writes Keith Sibson in Publishing Executive.
He believes that publishers — who have their own first-party data to access and analyze – may be in a good position right now.
“Fortunately, publishers might already have more first-party data available than they think; it’s just a matter of getting to it,” Sibson explains. “With a bit of work, publishers can unlock more of the first-party data they already own, then put it to use in their advertising and editorial strategies.”
The problem, he notes, is that too many publishers have yet to tap into this goldmine of information on their audience.
“Many publishers don’t look at their Google Analytics data beyond audience-level pageviews and demographics. It’s interesting, but it’s not particularly actionable,” Sibson says.
So what is actionable? How can publishers leverage their data to truly impact the bottom line?
The value of your data to your advertisers
Any publisher knows that ad dollars are hard to come by these days; it’s not impossible, but it can be tough sledding. Not only is the Facebook/Google duopoly tying up the bulk of digital ad spend, they now also account for 25% of all ad sales, online or off, according to Business Insider. Having first-hand information on your audience can be a boon.
Sibson explains that “bringing your own first-party data to the table can help you compete more effectively for ad dollars. Advertisers seeking specific audiences will see more value with quality first-party data.”
Meredith seems to understand this; when they bought Time Inc. from Time Warner last fall it opened the door to break through that duopoly.
“With Time Inc.’s digital properties on board, Meredith generates 170 million unique monthly visitors in the U.S., more than 10 billion annual video views and nearly $700 million in digital advertising revenue, according to the company,” wrote Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg in the Wall Street Journal. “That scale, says [Meredith executive chairman Stephen] Lacy, will enable Meredith to better compete with Facebook and Google, which together command the lion’s share of new digital ad dollars.”
“Knowing how many, say, men aged 25-34 who visit your site is one thing; knowing how many of them specifically consume automotive content, is a powerful tool to command ad revenue from advertisers, who can then target an audience they know will be receptive,” Sibson notes.
This is, after all, how Facebook got to be Facebook, by leveraging insights from their user base. And while most brands will be doing this on a much leaner scale, the results can be powerful.
The shifting value from third-party to first
Ads aren’t the only way to monetize your data, of course.
“For instance, publishers that offer premium subscriptions could identify the segments that engage with the most content and tailor their subscription marketing efforts accordingly,” says Sibson. “First-party data can also help publishers personalize content recommendations, which may then lead to deeper engagement.”
Third-party data, third-party content distribution, the third-party agency model – it seems it was all too much of a crapshoot for media brands. For publishers, the time is upon us to leverage the value of our own first-party data.
“Ultimately, this is all your own first-party data you’re sitting on, and letting it sit unused is a missed opportunity,” Sibson concludes. “By building out custom dimensions and using Analytics to its full potential, you can monetize your valuable first-party data and achieve your revenue potential too.”