Dotdash Meredith CEO Neil Vogel: Contextual ‘Beats Cookie-Based Advertising’ Every Time

Dotdash Meredith CEO Neil Vogel has a post-cookie plan.

IAC is planning to consolidate the Dotdash and Meredith ad sales teams within the next two weeks and unify their ad stacks with a focus on contextual targeting.

“Unified ad stacks can help us programmatically,” Vogel told investors during IAC’s Q4 2021 earnings call on Wednesday.

IAC-owned Dotdash acquired Meredith at a $2.7 billion valuation in October and rebranded the new entity as Dotdash Meredith.

As part of the restructuring, each brand within the consolidated team will be overseen by a general manager who acts as a “mini-CEO that owns all pieces of that brand, from content to product to tech,” Vogel said.

IAC reported $1.2 billion in revenue for Q4 2021, a 52% year-over-year increase. The combined Dotdash Meredith business brought in $252 million in revenue in Q4 2021, including $170 million from Meredith post-acquisition.

All about intent

IAC is optimistic that Meredith’s scale, combined with a pivot to a digital-only model for some of its publications, will increase opportunities for programmatic advertising going forward.

Dotdash Meredith will “see great yield improvements of the ad stack by combining and through efficiencies,” Vogel said, noting that as the various sites in the portfolio become “more performant,” programmatic ads become much more valuable and more viewable.

And “what underpins all of this,” he said, is the ability to run intent-driven contextual ad campaigns at scale.

“Intent-driven contextual advertising beats cookie-based advertising in performance every time,” Vogel said.

Dotdash’s strategy has long been to connect intent (like a search for how to tighten a loose toilet seat) with content (like an article with tips on how to, well, tighten a loose toilet seat). Meredith, meanwhile, has invested more in first-party, logged-in data.

Vogel’s comments point to a cookieless strategy going forward tied to contextual rather than any form of online identity.

“Cookies and all these trackers are going away, [and] in the long-term we don’t need them,” he said. “If somebody is searching on how to speed up my router, we know everything about them we need to know.”

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