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Weekly Roundup: First-Party Tech, GDPR Enforcement, Publisher Insights, and More.

Adtech Weekly Roundup
“Everyone is trying to solve for things that worked in the past, which weren’t all that successful for the publisher”  

How Reach Plans to Get 7 Million Registered Users?

With third-party cookies nearing its extinction, the interest in first-party data and technologies shot up recently. Just last week, we discussed how publishers are receiving first-party data partnership requests from advertisers and agencies. 

Well, Reach plc, the UK newspaper group holding several media brands including Daily Mirror, Sunday People, and Daily Express — decided to hop on the first-party data trend. Its goal is to get email addresses of 7 million readers by 2022. Here are the highlights from Digiday’s coverage.  

“The old trope that free content is not valuable or in demand, we just don’t believe in that. We’re seeing huge demand, so much so that we’re asking people for one piece of information and we will send them what they are interested in.”

–  Reach CEO, Jim Mullen.

Background:

Reach attracts 40 million unique visitors per month, according to Comscore. But 98% of the audience is anonymous and Reach doesn’t have the consent of the readers to share the personal information as well. As you could see, that will be a problem when third-party cookies are phased out by Chrome. 

The Strategy:

So, Reach is planning to put up a free registration mechanism to collect email addresses of the readers across its 25 different titles, which, in turn, will help the publisher:

– To deliver personalized content services and recommendations. Reach is claimed to publish more than 3,000 articles per day and getting the users’ interest and connecting the behavior to a single identifier like an email address can help to tailor the news. 

– To better its audience segmentation and let advertisers target in a post-cookie world. To put it another way, tailored services will improve time-on-site and help advertisers to target based on interests. Both will lead to increased ad revenue. 

– To find new sponsored content opportunities. With categorized content, the publisher can pitch relevant advertisers and local buyers to run ads. It’s news aggregator site ‘In Your Area’ aims to woo local advertisers with the same strategy. 

Sidenote: When a reader signs up for a newsletter or ‘In Your Area’, Reach will also gather interests, address, salary and house value estimates, commuting preferences, among others. 

Takeaway: 

While it’s useful to collect first-party data and use it to optimize both content and ad delivery, Reach will have a deal with audience fragmentation. Unlike walled gardens, Reach has its 40 million audiences split among tens of web properties. 

First-party Tech

As the demand for first-party tech increases, so are the products. Publishers are getting introduced to products from ad tech companies and advertisers that leverage publishers’ first-party data to run targeted ads. 

But AdExchanger’s recent article shows that publishers aren’t buying what they sell. Most are concerned about the privacy compliance, sustainability, and effectiveness of the products in the future. 

“Everyone is trying to solve for things that worked in the past, which weren’t all that successful for the publisher”  

– Dave Pond, Head of Media Strategy and Operations, BuzzFeed.

Is History repeating itself?

Everyone is certain about one thing —  in a post-cookie environment, publishers are the ones with the relationship with the audience and advertisers/ad platforms have to use it to run ads. Though it is necessary, the pitches from the buy-side aren’t convincing. 

The workarounds involve using publishers’ first-party cookies to store data and then permitting outside partners to access the cookies via API calls. The data can be connected together to create an identity for the user. Other forms of solutions suggest using local storage or a new CNAME record so that ad tech companies can set first-party cookies themselves and use it to run personalized ads. 

Publishers believe that the solutions are temporary workarounds rather than true innovations. Most importantly, implementing might end up putting privacy at risk and the performance of the site isn’t going to be the same. 

As many solutions require publishers to add code to their header and carry out integration work, programmatic professionals from the sell-side are quite reluctant. On one hand, there are compliance and legal issues and on the other hand, there are technical requirements. 

“We have a very privacy-first approach. If we can’t control it, it’s unlikely we would do it.”

– Jana Meron, SVP of programmatic and data strategy, Insider Inc. 

Several departments including revenue, product, and legal have to come together to take such products into consideration. 

Takeaway:

It’s imperative that we need to preserve some form of user data and create identities to ensure ads are relevant and targeted. But coming up with temporary band-aid solutions aren’t going to cut it. And, this time, publishers don’t want to make any mistakes or tradeoffs for the short-term gains.

Saving Publishers from Defaults

We know how dynamic the ad tech industry is. There is something new happening all the time. Not only the dynamic nature but the existence of uncertainty in almost all the affairs of the industry makes the situation even more chaotic. Amid all the hullabaloo, there are ad tech companies shutting down every now and then.

When a company closes, all its peers get affected. For example, if a DSP goes bankrupt, it fails to pay to the Exchange. When the Exchange doesn’t get paid by the DSP, under the terms of sequential liability, it can take back the money paid to the publisher.

How is the industry preventing it?

The companies in the ad tech are tightening their collection process. Spend caps are being set on DSPs. Contracts are being enforced more strictly. Companies like TripleLift and Sovrn are taking the help of the insurance products that protect against sequential liability. Payment delays are being scrutinized and late payers are being cut off.

What are the options for Publishers?

The market for publisher insurance products is growing. Such products can be used to safeguard against the dangers of sequential liability. Companies like Pubmatic are offering payment protection plans to publishers. Such plans charge publishers an additional fee for guaranteed payment even if a DSP defaults. 

“Publishers are starting to ask what demand sources are plugged in and if there’s risk on the other side of exchange,”

– John Gentry (CEO, OpenX) (Source)

Takeaway:

As the whole industry is taking proactive steps to avoid mishaps, the publishers should also be on the lookout for any signs of trouble from the demand side. Safeguarding measures like insurance may prove to be useful.

Cookieless Future

Increasing SPO Efforts

WPP’s media buying unit GroupM and the supply side platform Index Exchange are starting a partnership for a better Supply Path Optimization. GroupM will route the majority of its demand from Index Exchange. This concentrated demand will not only help the two parties with SPO, but there is an additional motive behind the deal too.

The two companies together will also work on identity solutions that can help them once the cookies are phased out from Google Chrome. The Index Exchange has integrations with The Trade Desk’s unified ID solution, LiveRamp, etc. 

Growing Private Deals

The trend has been going on for a long time. The share of open RTB has been declining as more and more publishers and buyers are moving towards private setups. The publishers generate higher CPM and the buyers get the inventory of their choice.

Recently, Adweek reported that the Bustle Digital Group has appointed Rubicon Project as the preferred SSP to execute Private Marketplaces for the group. The Rubicon Project will be managing PMPs across the 9 sites of the group. The publisher is also transitioning to support Prebid on its sites. If you are not aware of why the market is moving towards PMPs, read: Private Marketplace- Where we’re headed?

Takeaway: 

More and more players will go forward to shorten the supply path. Whether it is PMP or any other way, a concentrated demand can help publishers in getting CPMs higher than the open auctions. That being said, we also noticed that the quality of open marketplaces is getting better. So, you’ll have to keep an eye on both the deals. 

Moments that Matter

A Marketer’s Wish List For Supply-Path Transparency – AdExchanger.

Leaked memo: Snapchat is wooing advertisers to use its Audience Network to extend the reach of their ads beyond its platform –  Business Insider.

Marketers Struggle To Relearn The Former DoubleClick ID – AdExchanger.

How Will an Entire Industry Unlearn Ad Tech 1.0? – AdMonsters.

Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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