Zara Erismann
Zara Erismann 22 December 2020

Awakening the Value of Audience

Audience addressability has always been central to how publishers demonstrate their value to ad buyers and, as a result, it’s critical to how they protect their revenue streams. However, there are dramatic changes currently taking place within the publishing industry and beyond, which challenge the established foundations of online advertising.

These changes are being fuelled by a combination of evolving technologies and growing restrictions set by both governments and regulatory bodies, as well device and browser makers. Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has redefined what is permissible for data-driven targeting and how publishers are able to collect that data, for example.

This situation is compounded by the fact that the industry is being forced, due to ongoing restrictions across browsers, to move away from what has been the mainstay of user tracking, as well as critical processes like targeting and measurement, within the digital ad ecosystem – the third-party cookie.

On top of this, Apple’s announcement that apps on devices with iOS 14 will have to get explicit user consent in order to use its Identifier For Advertisers (IDFA) beginning early 2021, has some believing that all mobile advertising IDs (MAID) may be heading in the same direction.

It is vital that marketers and advertisers still maintain data-driven activation with publishers to drive meaningful consumer journeys, to ensure that readers still benefit from a customised ad experience.  While the continued deprecation of third-party cookies and increasing restrictions to mobile ad IDs could be seen as an insurmountable obstacle, in reality it's an opportunity to build deeper relationships with individuals cantered on trust.

Ad buyers want – indeed need – to target consumers based on known attributes, supplied actively and with permission. Not data that has been gleaned from inferred fragments. The good news for publishers is that marketers and advertisers are often willing to pay a premium to reach that real, known person – we just need to look at the current situation where addressable inventory on Chrome sells at a much higher rate than unaddressable inventory across Safari and Firefox.

However, they need to look closely at how they unlock the value of their audiences to get the data they need. By acquiring and utilising first-party audience data, publishers can open up the opportunity for enhanced people-based marketing, which will ultimately bring them closer to their advertisers.

Publishers have a range of different communication tools and engagement models, including newsletters, social log-ins, premium subscriptions or offerings, content walls, and gated services. In fact, many publishers have been successfully building known-audience bases through their subscription models for years.

Those publishers are now in prime position to capitalise on advertisers’ requirements by connecting the consumers they’ve nurtured to the advertisers looking to connect with them.

However, there is still more that can be done, and many publishers are only just realising the importance of first-party data. For those looking to invest in creating effective engagement strategies, the key is a favourable value exchange, the foundations of which lie in two key areas:

1. Creating great customer experiences with high-quality and relevant content

Quality and relevance have always been the cornerstone of good publishing and should continue to be. On one hand, publishers provide the quality content and experiences consumers actively seek, and on the other, consumers express their interest in engagement through authentication. Thus, effective strategies for authentication can often be the conduit for expressing the value exchange that forms the basis of trusted first-party relationships.

2. Building on trust through data security and protections

Developing trust with customers is about remembering that they are entrusting their data to you, which means giving them more transparency, choice, control and understanding over how their data is used and for what purpose.

To support this, publishers need to ensure they have a data management solution that puts privacy first and offers a deep commitment to data governance. The ability to provide end-to-end encryption should be considered essential for any solution handling people-based identifiers.

It’s important for publishers to remember that identifying the right balance between the engagement model and the value proposition can be challenging. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, and every publication’s audience is unique, this means that testing various authentication strategies over time is imperative.

To ensure they are well positioned to protect and build their revenue in the post-cookie publishing arena, publishers need to realise the value of their consumer relationships and put creating an authenticated user base at the centre of their development plans.

If you want to learn more and understand what publishing’s future relationship with advertisers will look like, download our latest piece of qualitative research – Building the Future of Publishing.

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