Thinking Like A Data Provider Can Save The Media Industry

Today’s New York Times is not your grandmother’s Gray Lady. Publishing has transformed in the past decade from the panic that print was dead to the rise of programmatic; from the growth of social and mobile clickbait to today’s pivots to video.

Through it all, some in the advertising ecosystem—namely the trifecta of Facebook, Google, and Amazon—have risen as clear frontrunners. In fact, 10 years ago, publishers’ piece of the advertising pie was about $50 billion.

Today, with the shifts to Facebook and Google, it has dropped to $18 billion.

A lot of this has to do with changes in the market and in marketing. Programmatic ad buying offered advertisers new levels of reach through digital ads. Then there was a shift away from marketing to devices, and marketers are hungry to reach real people. Marketers want to find the right people with the right ads at the right time.

To stay relevant, and even just to stay afloat, publishers need to update their own offerings and open new revenue streams for themselves.



Publishers have been selling their audience for forever. Selling ads directly to brands for site visitors is the bedrock of digital advertising, but it’s not what’s going to keep the media industry going in today’s landscape.

It’s time for publishers to start thinking like data providers.

New Monetization Opportunities 

As a digital publisher, you probably know a lot about your visitors. What they’re clicking on, what they’re reading and what they come back to. You know they’re interested in the style section, or the business section, but never check sports or food.

This is valuable information for brands to use in targeting. First, by the nature of the stories and articles they show up alongside, all marketing becomes contextual. It’s one thing to see an ad while scrolling through a newsfeed, but it’s another to see an ad for backpacks while reading a hiking story in the travel section. 

Hitting a prospect at the right time is just as important as finding the right person in the right place.

Second, psychographic data—an individual’s attitudes, aspirations, shopping habits, hobbies and other personal traits—is highly desired. With this valuable knowledge, marketers can append their CRM data and send prospects an email detailing how a new gadget saves parents time in the morning, with a special offer for frazzled moms and dads as a follow-up to a display ad seen on their favorite publication.

Publishers are sitting on a gold mine of data. That is first step to capturing the data and making it usable for brands seeking to reach a specific demographic of readers. But failing to do so is to reject the source of Facebook and Google’s dominance over new ad dollars.

Pushing Data To New Frontiers

Publishers have one other (potential) advantage they haven’t tapped into: their data can be used anywhere. Or at least, it can be used anywhere outside of their own properties.

Data marketplaces are making it easy for publishers to monetize their data and maintain control over its usage and pricing. In this new world, publishers are packaging desirable segments and charging higher CPMs for ads shown to advertisers’ audience members visiting their sites. They also give brands the rights to use that audience across their programmatic campaigns.

Suddenly, your audience has more utility to a marketer than simply targeting whoever comes to your site. The more an audience contains useful data to advertisers, the more it’ll make in ad revenue. And that’s a win-win.



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