Bi-weekly AdTech Highlights
- Publishers Prepare Earlier for the Holiday Shopping Season
- Very Few Are Testing Google’s FLEDGE Despite It Being Accessible to All
- Google Introduces Publisher Advertiser Identity Reconciliation (PAIR)
- CPRA Can Create Measurement and Analytics Problems for Publishers
- Chicago Sun-Times Makes Its Content Free for Readers
Publishers Prepare Earlier for the Holiday Shopping Season
A recent report from Digiday’s stated that retailers have started the shopping period for the holiday season in 2022. One of the main reasons is the impending inflation, which might deter consumers from making purchases.
As many retailers like Amazon, Target, and Walmart are launching various sales events, adjustments are also being made regarding publisher holiday content strategies. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaching, publishers like Gallery Media Group have hastened the production of their affiliate commerce content after experiencing record sales during Way Day and Prime Day. They have further decided to invest heavily in increased content output and editorial resources.
“These are really important days for our business. These are moments to make spurts of revenue that aren’t necessarily planned for that could definitely change the landscape of Q4 revenue.”
– Ryan Harwood, CEO, Gallery Media Group
On the other hand, Future plc, a U.K.-based enterprise publishing company, experienced a record sale totaling $26.4 million via its product recommendation content during the first Prime Day that happened earlier this year. Therefore, they have decided to continue with product recommendation content in the coming holiday months.
However, the publisher is changing this content’s format since they recently found out after a survey that consumers are looking for good and discounted deals to beat the price hike and inflation. The content would hence focus on such deals and offers for readers.
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This shows a clear pattern of consumer buying behavior during the upcoming holiday seasons. Hence, publishers can probably take note and strike deals with affiliate partners to create and promote commerce content. Product recommendations are one of the best opportunities.
For publishers producing niche content (healthcare, lifestyle, sports, etc.), content on good deals for relevant products during the holidays can also be beneficial. It can help generate additional revenue when online shopping has declined, and inflation keeps increasing. Consumers are reluctant to make costly purchases. Therefore, such content can attract them with lucrative deals and create purchase intent and conversions.
Google Introduces Publisher Advertiser Identity Reconciliation (PAIR)
There is another cookie-less first-party data solution in the market: Google’s Publisher Advertiser Identity Reconciliation or PAIR. PAIR is available on Google’s DSP, known as Display & Video 360 (DV360). The new solution allows publishers and advertisers to match their customer lists (encrypted email IDs for now) against each other’s audiences. The solution aims to help advertisers reach out to their potential customers who frequently visit the publisher’s website.
Keeping concerns of privacy and the scrutiny of regulators in mind, Google is trying to ensure that PAIR remains different from other first-party data solutions, such as The Trade Desk’s UID 2.0 or its own Google Customer Match. Unlike UID 2.0, PAIR doesn’t pool data; the matching can only work on a one-on-one advertiser-to-publisher relationship. It also does not support creating customer profiles across publishers and websites.
Further, it differentiates itself from Google Customer Match by letting the first-party data matching happen against a publisher’s data instead of data aggregated by Google. PAIR can be used with any SSP, while Customer Match was only supported on Google Display Network. Google has already partnered with third-party vendors like Habu, LiveRamp, and InfoSum to carry out the matching of users and build the clean-room tech, keeping its own clean room Ads Data Hub on the sidelines for now.
PAIR is a lucrative offering for publishers in a cookie-less future who can look forward to serving relevant ads to their users without worrying about compromising their privacy. Since PAIR allows advertisers to test their first-party data against a publisher in a secure and encrypted manner, publishers can effectively declare the audiences that frequent their websites without revealing any PII (Personal Identifiable Information).
It can increase scale by being compatible with most browsers and mobile apps. However, that needs to be tested as more and more publishers adopt PAIR. Publishers should also ramp up their first-party data collection procedures, especially email addresses if they are not doing it already because PAIR won’t work for publishers without such data.
* Clean rooms: Clean rooms are encrypted and secure software platforms that allow for the sharing of aggregated and anonymized user data without revealing the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of individual customers.
Why Are So Few Testing Google FLEDGE?
Despite being made available for testing during the first half of 2022, there seem to be very few participants who have started testing Google’s FLEDGE. FLEDGE is a remarketing tool for advertisers to help them connect with relevant audiences and deliver personalized ad content. It was Google’s answer to replace the previously touted TOPICS API and provide the ad ecosystem with an alternative for cookie-less targeting.
Even though Google has released multiple articles and events explaining FLEDGE, very few participants are actively testing it. The primary resistance seems to be from SSPs who fear that FLEDGE will restrict them from providing additional value to publishers. Publishers don’t need remarketing tools. Advertisers need it. Hence, FLEDGE becomes irrelevant for an SSP since they cater to publishers. It is also unclear if FLEDGE would allow multiple SSPs to bid simultaneously for an ad impression, further alienating its support.
Publishers have, however, shown interest – with companies like Ringier Axel Springer actively testing FLEDGE. The lack of clarity about testing capabilities in the initial stages and how ad server and SSP integrations would happen has been a major roadblock.
While FLEDGE is still in the nascent stages and quite some time away from being ready, the advertising ecosystem must actively test it. Only then can it become a viable cookie-less targeting solution. This includes publishers as well.
Publishers play an essential role as a direct link to the user base that needs to be attributed for FLEDGE to work properly. If more and more publishers start testing FLEDGE, it would potentially provide ample data for analysis. This would also create possibilities for testing FLEDGE’s efficiency against alternative targeting solutions.
Related Read: Is Google Privacy Sandbox Future of the Targeted Ads?
CPRA Can Prohibit Publishers From Modifying Consumer Profiles
The California Privacy Rights Act, or CPRA, an amendment to the existing CCPA, will take effect on January 1, 2023. However, the recent first draft, released on May 27, 2022, has raised some important concerns. While it might limit measurement and analytics for ad campaign effectiveness, it can also prohibit publishers from creating or modifying user profiles to create custom audience segments.
According to the CPRA, audience data can be used by a publisher only for internal purposes, such as improving the quality of their content, complying with privacy laws, or detecting fraud. Enriching customer profiles or defining which categories or interest groups users fall under is prohibited under the CPRA. This can hugely diminish a publisher’s ability to personalize offerings that they make to their audiences.
It further prohibits combining personal information. Advertisers can now no longer share data with DMPs or other analytics companies. Similarly, DMPs or analytics companies cannot combine data they might have even collected directly from the consumer.
For publishers, this creates the hurdle of attracting advertisers, who might be unsure how their ad campaigns might work on a particular website. Since there is no way to measure or analyze, buyers might refrain from bidding on a publisher’s inventory despite its potential to be profitable.
Furthermore, publishers need to be careful about not combining data from third-party sources to enrich customer profiles of identified audiences. Data collected should also be done on a first-party basis with direct consent from the users.
Chicago Sun-Times Makes Its Content Free for Everyone
Paywalls can often result in declining readerships. With many publishers closing down in the past three years, Chicago Sun-Times has decided to let go of paywalls and make their content free for everyone. However, readers still need to provide their email IDs and sign-up to get unlimited access to The Sun-Times’ content.
The publisher took this decision to encourage more readers to read their content and support their local communities and news, which can often get neglected behind a paywall. This move is quite bold, especially during inflation. They have replaced it with a donation-based membership model. People who wish to donate to the publisher’s business can do so to support their journalistic endeavor and become a Founding Member.
Image Source: Chicago Sun-Times
To increase audience engagement, The Chicago Sun-Times has further introduced a community-participation program whereby readers can contribute to the stories suntimes.com publishes or correct a misunderstood or neglected concept about their community.
The strategy by Chicago Sun-Times can be a clue to news publishers looking to increase their readership and audience engagement and enhance the impact of local news. The Sun-Times is not the only publisher experimenting with a no-paywall/donation-based model. Publishers with a strong local presence can implement this tactic and avoid readers bouncing off their websites due to a paywall.
They can further enrich their first-party databases, as email addresses are still being collected from willing readers. This can come in handy while executing an advertising model (both programmatic and direct), which can further complement other revenue models.