Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Is publisher first-party data the new gold standard for advertisers?

With the demise of the third-party cookie, publishers’ first-party data is heralded as the new gold standard for advertisers. 

So we asked them to prove it.

New Digital Age partnered with audience platform Permutive to launch ‘The Pitch’, a Dragons’ Den-style contest where publishers had to prove to a panel of agencies that their first-party data offer could deliver campaigns on client KPIs without the use of any third-party data. 

The event saw representatives from the Choueiri Group, Dazed Media, the Guardian, and Hello! present to ‘Dragons’ Caroline Moffat, Digital Director at Starcom; Dan Calladine, Head of Media Future at Carat; Morys Ireland, Head of Data and Technology Services at Mindshare; and Liting Spalding, Head of Audience Planning and Programmatic at Havas.

The publishers were grilled on every aspect of their solutions and what they were claiming to be able to deliver. And, for the most part, they were all able to overcome the challenges presented to them with confidence. 

Havas’s Spalding praised all the publishers, saying, “great preparation and presentation, with passion for the technology. They really believed in the products, and it was not just a sales pitch.

“Agencies are very excited about potential cookieless solutions and it was great to see publishers driving those solutions. It was a great test to see how they would react in those situations – and some certainly rose to it.”

The Choueiri Group, the Middle East’s leading media representation group, were the first to (virtually) step in front of the esteemed judging panel, showing off the data segments they are able to create across the more than 40 web portals they represent. 

“The work to bring together so many publishers and titles across their region was very impressive, it would be great to be able to tap into something like that in the UK,” commented Mindshare’s Ireland. “They clearly had the tech infrastructure and data offering and, if we were able to, we would certainly look at following up with them.”

Next, Dazed entered to face the fire – and left with the recognition of being dubbed “the best of the day” by Carat’s Calladine. 

The millennial and Gen Z-focused publisher – which has worked with brands including Nike, Burberry, Tinder, Adidas, Ford, Gucci, and Channel 4, to name a few – showcased its unique audience and ability to marry creativity and first-party data, which Dazed has grown by 63% in the past year. 

“Their breadth of first-party data has increased as they have expanded their Dazed network, and includes hard to reach Gen Z social activism and beauty segments. This coupled with their ability to develop a creative idea aligned to data segments and their audience is extremely powerful,” said Starcom’s Moffat. “They displayed strong knowledge of their consumer, and it’s clear that they work hard to instil authenticity into Dazed.

“I immediately identified a client which is a perfect fit for their gen Z audience and would love to test the effectiveness of their own first-party data on a future campaign.”

Third up was the 200-year-old brand of the Guardian – one of the UK’s biggest newsbrands. It shared how, on top of having 100% visibility of its audience via first-party cookies, it also benefits from its ‘Pulse’ tool, which enables the publisher to see what content is being read in real-time and allows it to identify surging content then overlay it with first-party audience data. 

The Guardian also provided insight into its work with Permutive around ad effectiveness, which showed that first-party data delivers 65% higher brand uplift. 

“A well-versed pitch, with a strong offering backed up by case studies and metrics that matter, such as attention and brand lift,” said Moffat.

“I was impressed by their audience insights capability using their 1P data, which can be applied not only to the campaign but also to other elements such as creative and overall strategy.”

The show was closed by celebrity and human interest-focused publisher Hello!, which manages to reach a third of women in the UK. The publisher collects data via a combination of IBM Watson, polls, and ecommerce triggers. And has carried out an internal project called ‘Drumbeat’ to measure the true power of its first-party data.

Hello! also shared that it would soon be entering the world of podcasts and exploring how commerce can play a role in its strategy.

“This really got across to me how broad their audience is across multiple touchpoints (print, digital), and how they are extending this into other areas (e.g. podcasts) with an aim to reach audiences in new ways,” said Calladine. 

The overall consensus of the judging panel was that the contestants proved the promise of their first-party data as a potential new gold standard for audience data. Not only are these publishers able to understand their audiences in real-time but also monetize that data and answer RFPs effectively. This will be vital as brands search for ways to reach their audiences.  

“It was great to see that all publishers had a strong first-party story to tell, but even further than that, via technology, that they were able to see and understand 100% of their audience and present privacy-safe insights for advertisers,” said Elizabeth Brennan, Head of Advertiser Strategy at Permutive. “In some cases, they were also able to show work towards specific brand KPIs. It’s going to be an exciting few months as more brands test the power of publishers’ data and capabilities, as they enter a world without third party cookies together.”

*Permutive is a client of Bluestripe Content Studio, owned by Bluestripe Group, the owner of NDA.

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