Jed Mole

March 01, 2013

With the explosion or Real-Time Bidding (RTB), some may argue that publishers have lost control of their inventory and their audience. Platforms on the demand side are knocking the average eCPM’s down and leveraging data management platforms (DMP) to extract the audience details for ad impressions.

But RTB is also creating plethora of opportunities for publishers who can now monetise their “digital” data (i.e. data generated across their sites and aggregated at a cookie level) outside of their network. For Ben Plomion, VP – Marketing & Partnerships for Chango, the prospects are promising for publishers that take control of their audience and seize the data monetisation opportunity:

“[…]RTB is also creating new types of media deals: the private exchanges and direct media buy are two examples. Finally, some publishers will embrace audience extension to better monetize their audience outside their network, or/and will sell their data to a third party.” (for eConsultancy)

1. Monetising PII-cookies*

Data companies like Acxiom have built their products and services around a breadth of modelled and non-modelled lifestyle, demographic and behavioural data. These organisations know how many children you have, whether you’re more likely to shop at Tesco’s or Waitrose and how much discretionary income you’ve got for travel this year. Data suppliers have the PII data (Personally Identifiable information) but traditionally lack the link between this “offline” data and a user browsing a specific site i.e. “digital” data.

Offline data is increasingly seen as valuable in the RTB environment. It helps advertisers ensure they show their display ads to individuals that are likely to buy from them. Pampers wouldn’t want to spend millions of display ad budget for their nappies on audiences that have no young children.

Publishers attract tens of millions of visits across their online properties and generate millions of user sign ups or registrations. They create the link between an anonymous browser and an identified user via the log-in or registration. So they are capable of bringing “digital” (navigational) data across their site’s real estate and their log-in (“offline”) data together. They have the opportunity to partner with or sell this link to data companies such as Acxiom who can then in turn sell these cookies to platforms on the buy side.

2. Monetising navigational data

PII cookies are not the only asset that publishers can monetise: advertisers are hungry for in market data as well. Publishers that have a vast and diversified real-estate of sites, generate terabytes of navigational data. Specific behaviours and a combination of site/page visits can help identify if an individual is in market for a holiday, a car, a credit card or a mortgage etc.

Let’s take the example of a user that visits the mortgage service page from Guardian and browses property pages. He is highly likely to be in market for a mortgage; information that’s highly valuable to banks that are certain to want to pay a premium for this data.

DMPs or data suppliers such as Acxiom connected to DMPs can monetise this data on behalf of publishers. Monetising this data would require the site to be tagged:

  • Site tagging: the DMP will work with the publisher to have the appropriate sites/pages tagged and categorised
  • Cookie dropping: The tags will drop cookies on users’ devices
  • Collection: The tags will collect the navigational information and link it to a cookie
  • Analysis: The different site and page interactions can be combined to create navigational segment or in market segments

The data aggregated can be co-branded DMP/publisher or a publisher can choose to include their navigational data within a DMP’s branding. Revenue models will vary but in general, publishers can expect to get a 50% revenue share.

Combine in-market information generated from site navigation with affordability scores distributed via PII-cookies and you have a very strong proposition for advertisers.

3. Audience extension

Publishers are limited by the number of impressions that they generate on their site. The more targeted an advertisers wants to be, the smaller the ad impression volume is. With Audience Extension, publishers are able to extend audience targeting beyond their site via retargeting.

As an example, let’s imagine The Guardian have a request from Barclays to show ads to individuals who are in market for a mortgage. They would show the ads to users that browsed their mortgage service and property pages. But the display ad space across their network of sites might be limited for such individuals and Barclays might be after large volumes of impressions. To deliver that volume and achieve more return from the in-market data it has captured the Guardian can extend that audience by retargeting the individuals that displayed that behaviour on sites that are outside of the Guardian network. Audience Extension is a great incremental revenue opportunity: publishers are no longer constrained by their own impressions and can monetise their audiences across the web.

*PII cookies cannot be linked back to an individual i.e. to PII information. But we are using this terminology as these cookies can be associated to variables that data suppliers hold on that individual apart from any information that can identify who they are.

Jed Mole