AccuWeather Matches User Behavior With Revenue

accuweather-sunnyAccuWeather knew the CPMs it garnered from advertisers varied widely, a reflection of today’s programmatic audience-buying tactics. Like most publishers, the company relied mostly on intuition to match high CPMs to reader behaviors.

One reason AccuWeather had limited insight was because its data was disconnected. DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP), its advertising platform, analyzed ad revenue. Google Analytics 360 measured user behavior.

After Google connected the two platforms six months ago, AccuWeather’s director of ad strategy and audience development, Stephen Mummey, immediately saw how revenue per 1,000 sessions (which accounts for multiple ads on a single page, as well as multiple page views per session) varied across different user behaviors.

For instance, AccuWeather could compare users who checked the weather and then the weekend forecast versus those who checked the weather and then the allergy forecast.

Being able to view revenue through an analytics lens solved another mystery. When AccuWeather added in two new SSPs a few months ago, average revenue per 1,000 sessions in the US shot up by 45%. In the past, it would have applauded the extra revenue and left it there.

But by analyzing the lift using the Google Analytics connection, it discovered that the high-value sessions shared a common user behavior: US-based readers checking forecasts in warm destinations like the Caribbean. Travel advertisers were finding prospective travelers among AccuWeather’s users and paying a premium for them on the open exchange.

AccuWeather created a segment based on that high-value behavior and exported to DFP, where it could offer it up to direct advertisers.

AccuWeather does this with other audience types as well. For example, it found auto commuters by gathering examples of people based in one place who checked the forecast for a destination within driving distance on weekdays.

“We can derive intent by figuring out not just who you are, but why you are visiting.” Mummey said.

Connecting DFP with Google Analytics also lets AccuWeather create tiny segments with outsize value. “We waste less and create more high-value [ad] impressions,” Mummey said.

AccuWeather uses a data management platform (DMP) too, but considers that more of a source for undifferentiated third-party audience data. One big issue with DMPs is that they need time to tag users to create a segment, Mummey said. “With Google Analytics, it’s been collecting everything since day one. Instead of planning three months ahead to target a group of users, it’s already there.”

The Google Analytics connection also lets AccuWeather conduct ad exposure studies without relying on a third party.

A health-care product advertiser wanted to add location parameters, so AccuWeather passed the audience who had been served the ads in DFP into Google Analytics and added the parameters. Then it passed that audience back to DFP and delivered them a survey. Those who saw the ad stated they were 6.5 times as likely to buy the product in the next month.

AccuWeather realized these insights six months into its connection. The first three months it spent building out segments and experimenting on the platform. The past three, it’s been activating those segments on behalf of advertisers.

“Once you understand what users are doing that’s unique on your property, it’s your competitive advantage,” Mummey said.

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