Addressing the Addressability Challenge For Publishers

By Lindsey Marshall, Director Publisher Partnerships, Criteo, and Sean Deane, Senior Director, Publisher Partnerships, Criteo

With additional browser- and device-based identifier restrictions dropping almost every other month, publishers are getting pitched a dozen addressability solutions every week – and we’re already seeing cases of buyer’s remorse: publishers not getting the value they expected from proposed solutions.

How can publishers wade through the multiplying options to figure out where they should invest their time, resources and data?

At Criteo, our direct relationships with a large portion of the Comscore top 100 publishers have given us a unique perspective on this question. We’ve seen the ambiguity publishers are facing – and the frustrations of broken promises.]

Here’s what publishers need to be asking upfront to ensure they get the addressability solution (and the value) they’re looking for.

1)    Ask about privacy and security

  • What’s going to happen to your data – and how?

An addressability partner should be able to demonstrate full compliance with all privacy regulations (e.g., GDPR, CCPA) and ensure data cannot be reidentified or linked back to any contributing party. You should also ask how privacy and security is going to be achieved. How is data auditing going to be considered? What’s the partner doing to protect and store that data? Finally, “What’s not going to be done with our data?” should be the question on every publisher’s mind.

  • What data will be exchanged?

Will the data being shared just involve hashed emails and login data? Or will you be exchanging broader first-party data, such as unique attributes about your audiences?

  • What proof can they provide?

Proven privacy compliance is better than a description in a pitch deck. Working with established global partners that are already complying with stringent requirements is a great place to start. Ask what partnerships look like in the EU and whether a US-based partnership will be treated any differently.

2)    Ask about transparency

  • Is the partner matching, sharing or enhancing your data?

There is a big difference between a partner pushing its own ID solution and a true addressability partner that offers a matching solution that does not introduce additional latency or cost.

Is your first-party data enhancing the value of your inventory? Or does the ad tech player help you better match your inventory to interested buyers so you can increase the auction density competing to monetize your site?

This question is directly linked to supply-path optimization (SPO). You need to understand exactly how that flow of data – and dollars – works. Publishers should be working with partners who increase their monetization and drive incremental value and revenue from their services.

  • Are they providing addressability technology or an addressability solution?

Does working with the partner provide matching solutions that help increase the attractiveness of your inventory to marketers? Or is the partner merely providing an identifier?

The ideal addressability solutions will be adopted at scale, generate far more incremental value than the upfront integration cost and continue to provide you choices in other partners you work with. Having a more interoperable identifier for matching between demand and supply can also increase CPMs and participation win rates.

  • What specific results will this partnership achieve?

Publishers should know what their potential partner will deliver or produce before they start working together. Aligning on expectations upfront enables you to hold the partner accountable to these promises once you’re up and running.

For example, what will your match rates be to buyer demand? How does this match rate change across different consumer devices and applications? What kind of CPM increases should you expect when you share first-party data compared to when you don’t? These specifics will enable you to show the value between users where you have addressable identifiers (e.g., hashed email) vs. those who don’t. Transparency means you can justify the work to prepare now, because you can see how a future without addressability hits your bottom line and how that bottom line impact will only grow.

3)    Ask if there is a clear value exchange

  • Is the solution short-term or sustainable?

It’s natural to expect an immediate impact. While an addressability solution can certainly help in the environments where third-party cookies are already not supported (e.g., Safari), the reality is that publishers expecting an instant 25%-50% boost in CPMs are going to be disappointed.

The real priority here is protecting the demand flowing through now and getting ahead in adoption of responsible, addressable media identifiers. But the true strategic value of an addressability solution is that it enables marketers to engage publisher audiences, measure the impact of that engagement and optimize accordingly.

  • What can they provide beyond CPMs?

Beyond enhancing the CPMs of your current inventory and preserving its value in the future of addressability, an ad tech partner should be able to provide a demand feedback loop that tells publishers, “This bucket of users are your shoe shoppers, your travel enthusiasts, your pet lovers, etc.” Plus, they should be able to package these insights in a way that’s easy for a publisher to understand how their content attracts and engages different audiences. These types of commerce-driven segments could even become targeting segments for advertisers.

The value of a commerce-driven partner

Publishers should expect that addressability solution partners will help them generate even more value from their inventory – and enhance how they pitch and promote that inventory at the same time. Publishers that pick addressability solutions that meet high standards in terms of privacy and transparency will, in turn, power a virtuous cycle: Monetizing first-party data more effectively drives a stronger bottom line, which supports quality content and better user experiences, which generate richer first-party data to feed into that value-adding addressability engine.

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