By Cristian Coccia, Regional Vice-President, Southern Europe and MENA at PubMatic
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, changes in consumer behaviour were already redefining the rules of marketing. Today, audiences move seamlessly across multiple screens and spend more time than ever engaging with an increasing range of digital media. Furthermore, data regulatory changes, such as GDPR and CCPA, along with the impending demise of the third-party cookie, have led to a re-evaluation of audience-targeting strategies. The result? Data is the new currency that is determining – and will continue to determine – the winners in the digital advertising ecosystem.
Everyone and everything is disrupted
For advertisers, disruption means constantly evaluating the best way to find and address relevant audiences. For publishers this means providing audiences with loyalty-provoking experiences, across all screens, while simultaneously gathering compliant consumer data. To solve for this disruption, advertisers and publishers need to work together to create solutions that seamlessly knit together these disparate data sources and create relevant and respectful revenue-driving advertising solutions.
Over the past few years, premium publishers have worked to create environments in which consumers are happy to exchange personal data in return for quality content and personalised experiences. It is this publisher-owned, first-party, loyal audience data that is really disrupting the status quo by providing new revenue sources outside traditional advertising formats both online and offline.
Publisher consortia to rival the walled gardens
The digital walled gardens have thrived on the large amounts of audience data they have integrated into single-view, easy-to-use planning, reporting, and optimisation tools for marketers. This is great for media buyers who want to reach addressable audiences, at scale, with personalised advertising without a great deal of effort. Outside of the walled gardens, publishers cannot compete on their own: media buyers are simply not in a position to navigate hundreds of individual publishers and platforms. However, when premium publishers collaborate they create something that is extremely valuable and not available within the walled gardens: cross-publisher data.
Responsibly sourced, up-to-date cross-publisher data, housed in a trusted, accessible ecosystem, creates a platform from which publishers can compete with the scale and convenience of the walled gardens. Today, this is a key way that media buyers can identify synergies and create premium media buys at a significant scale and shift budget away from the walled gardens.
Cross-publisher data ecosystems work, and this trend is on the rise in regions where there has been a growth in the anti-walled-garden movement. However, it is unclear whether these publisher login alliances will work across international borders. While it is not impossible to create publisher alliances that can operate in multiple languages, and incorporate country-specific regulations and multiple currencies, it is more challenging compared with single-market solutions.
I’m a cookie – who are you?
Cookies are still a fundamental part of today’s advertising ecosystem and remain the conduit by which advertisers and publishers transact to target relevant audiences. However, in a world of unknowns, especially around identity, we know that the elimination of third-party cookies will have a massive impact on open-web publishers and their ability to monetise.
Many different identity solutions from multiple providers have been adopted by publishers, helping to transform the way the industry identifies consumers and stores meaningful user data without third-party cookies. Using advanced data analytics, we can compare the effectiveness of identity solutions and show which methodologies are most effective.
Data and identity are changing activation strategies
The customer journey is being fundamentally disrupted by changes in media consumption habits, emerging channels (such as connected TV), the rise of publisher consortia, and new identity solutions and standards. Media buyers need to adapt the way they plan and buy in order to mirror these new, more complex customer journeys, and reach and engage target audiences.
Advertisers want to provide more impactful ad experiences – and, just as importantly, measure the outcomes of their campaigns – while publishers want to rebuild and maintain their direct relationship with consumers. Publisher consortia and identity solutions are of great benefit to brands and publishers because they enable brands to buy from premium publishers, in brand-safe environments, and help both sides to create meaningful one-to-one relationships with consumers.
In order to build on the work that has already been done, we need to look at the funnel and put consumers at the centre of everything. Publishers need to help buyers access the data within the supply chain, and buyers need to use the data sets to create new audience segments based on data that extends beyond demographics and behaviours.
At PubMatic, we have created Audience Encore, which allows us to help buyers and sellers achieve better outcomes by applying different audience segment data to campaigns and activating across premium inventory. We have partnered with some of the leading global customer intelligence platforms to enable our clients to match audiences and map the link from the original user ID across all the channels and platforms. This approach results in campaigns that reach multiple target audiences through a single platform, saving time by removing the need for publishers and brands to navigate multiple partnerships.
Thoughts for the future
As a result of the changes in consumers’ media consumption habits, data regulation changes, and new technology and platforms, advertisers have more opportunities to reach audiences than ever before.
As we move into the next era of digital advertising, we need to continue to build technologies that enable brands and agencies to compare and contrast different data sets without necessarily having control of the data itself. These data sets must be based on present, consent-based identifiers. Publishers must be enabled to remain in control and be the ultimate guardians of their data. Overall, we must all keep in mind that consumers’ media consumption habits will continue to change, and not always in a predictable way.