Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

‘Know your value’ – The future of ad trading from the Independent Publishers Alliance 

By Chloe Heard, Account Manager,  Bluestripe Communications 

The need for solutions for online identity and tightening relationships between agencies and publishers were key topics at the Independent Publishers Alliance’s event on the Future of Ad Trading in the heart of London’s Soho. 

Facilitated by NDA Editor Justin Pearse, and sponsored by Liveramp, the audience heard from Alex Kirby, Head of Programmatic at Future, Walton Musgrave, Global Programmatic Director at Hello Magazine, Bill Swanson, EMEA Strategy Lead at, and Adam Cluett, Specialist Director at Zenith Media. The key themes were varied, covering the cookieless future, the relationships between publishers and agencies, and the importance of testing identity solutions. 

Know your audience

Kicking off, Future’s Head of Programmatic, Alex Kirby urged publishers to really start to understand “their audience and how they interact with the site” in order to optimise first-party data collection. In agreement, Zenith’s Adam Cluett stated that “first-party data is now paramount”, and “advocates adding login details now… and a few questions on those login details too.” Cluett outlined, ‘If [publishers] can understand the age group, class, and gender [of their audience], that is half the battle because then you can begin to contextualise”.  

Once this data is gathered Bill Swanson, EMEA Strategy Lead at highlighted that “independent publishers [will have] a very strong position in the cookieless future” as they become the gatekeepers for rich, invaluable data. What’s crucial is that publishers know their value in the exchange, as Kirby pointed out. 

A closer relationship between publishers and media agencies 

Both Cluett and Swanson feel that the end of cookies will also herald a closer relationship between media agencies and publishers, with Cluett emphasising the importance of constant communication between the two to ensure campaigns are optimised and maximised. 

With both agencies and publishers becoming more time-poor, Cluett highlighted the importance of “speaking to the right person at the right time”. Even the last “10 minutes of the day” can create fruitful results, so it’s important to keep those lines of communication open and collaborative. 

Keep testing 

Wrapping the event up, Ryan Afshar, Head of Addressability UK at LiveRamp urged publishers to test as many identity solutions as they can to find the best option. Whether that is an ID solution, identifier, or first-party data solution, the results will speak for themselves. 

Afshar explained that the cookieless future is “a leveller” as independent publishers are able to harness their close audience relationships to compete with the media investment that traditionally pours into the walled gardens. An independent publisher’s “biggest strength is agility, and the ability to move fast” and Afshar highlights that this sets them up for success with whatever comes next. 


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