Publishers, Take Back Your Data!
Although this may have sounded like news to some--including many publishers--this practice has been going on for a while. Whether in the form of retargeting or behavioral targeting, cookie data on site specific ad interactions has been an increasingly important media planning and optimization tool. And, as network targeting technology becomes more sophisticated, and publishers more aware, the activity is poised to become another sticking point in Ad Network-Publisher relationships.
But it doesn't need to be--especially in today's ever evolving data marketplace.
Brand publishers, pummeled by a new market reality that demands performance as well as prestige, are feeling the pinch of user-based targeting methods. All of these methods rely on the same thing, however, core, "cookie-based" user data that can only be garnered via a premium publisher site. And, in many cases, the best users (and data) come from the best sites. Hence networks often do an expensive "premium" buy with a top notch site, only to tag those users for targeting elsewhere on cheaper media.
Without that core site, there are no core users, no targeting information about those users, and put simply, no place to run ads in the first place. Doesn't it make sense that publishers should have a right to manage and monetize the visitors to their site as well as the data about them?
It's time for publishers to get more proactive.
1)Demand that networks pay you to drop their cookies. Tacoda was an early leader in driving home the concept of the value of data by paying pubs for their user info, whether or not ads were run on their site. All ad nets should follow their lead and bring the practice above the radar. Publishers should prod them along.
2)Develop a data strategy. Make sure that you know who, why and how your users are being leveraged. Review your IOs and see what they say about data--who owns it, and what rights advertisers have. Determine what info you are comfortable giving up, what you aren't and to whom.
3)Take control of your data destiny through a data exchange. There are a growing number of venues through which to monetize your data that don't take a great deal of time or effort to manage. Like ad networks, data exchanges (such as eXelate and Blue Kai) allow publishers to access multiple network data revenue streams via a single account.
4)If you can't get paid, get info. If a network or advertising partner is reluctant to pay for cookies they are dropping on your site, push for an information share. More data on how your visitors are performing can help your sales team refine their pitch and discover potential new targets.
Context and placement have always been the most critical factors in any media buy, either on- or offline. But as behavioral optimization techniques become more refined, an imprint of the person that is seeing the ad is starting to eclipse where they are seeing it as a bottom line performance factor.
Publishers hold the key to recognizing this imprint and need to begin taking stronger steps to managing and monetizing this data. Stronger data strategies from publishers, in which control and monetization are key, are not only critical in helping publishers stabilize their business and extend their audience relationship but also help create an open, equitable information landscape which benefits marketers and consumers.