With cookies in decline, Dotdash wants to be the publisher that helps marketers weather the transition.
With nearly a dozen media brands that span personal finance, weddings, lifestyle, wellness, beauty and travel, Dotdash prides itself on helping more than 100 million users find answers, yielding an enormous cache of intent data.
Since its sites often help readers with specific questions they’ve queried to a search engine, the publisher knows when people want “Taco Tuesday” recipes, for example, or information about setting up a retirement account. With third-party data becoming less effective, Dotdash bets that publishers like itself can partner with marketers to fill that gap.
“Marketers need new strategies for targeting and measurement that should include relationships with publishers.” said Sara Badler, SVP of programmatic revenue and strategy at Dotdash.
Marketers can and should continue to use third-party data, she advised, but they also need to pursue alternative tactics in parallel as existing strategies lose effectiveness.
To help a financial services marketer this year, Dotdash looked for people reading content about retirement planning and savings on Investopedia, which it acquired a year ago, and The Balance, a personal finance site. Dotdash created segments from that behavior that were purchased programmatically by the marketer.
The intent data captured by Dotdash’s sites increased the brand’s ad click-through rates by 50% compared to a non-targeted advertising buy using third-party data. The segments do cost more, and vary in size due to seasonality. But the performance justifies the premium, Badler said.
A second way Dotdash helps marketers is by helping them observe the differences between how the market is valuing iOS and Android users.
“Marketers are only targeting what they can see – and 50% of their audience has been taken away” due to changes like the Intelligent Tracking Prevention browsing restrictions on Apple devices, Badler said.
Because Dotdash sees a mix of devices coming to its site, while marketers are only cherry-picking the ones they want to reach, the publisher has a more complete view of those changes.
To help marketers explore how their access to these different groups is changing, it’s separated out iOS and Android users and shares device-specific insights with clients.
“We’ve seen a huge flip in terms of how Android and iOS users act,” Badler said. Though Dotdash’s research suggests that iPhone users are worth more to advertisers, their value has gone down in the open exchange – a tip-off to the impact of losing cookies on much of iPhone traffic.
One thing Dotdash isn’t doing is touting a specific tech to solve all cookie woes. It currently works with a data-management platform, Lotame, and has explored Permutive, which won over a number of high-profile publishers this year. The tech-agnostic approach means Dotdash wants to work with the new crop of agency-acquired data companies, for example, or a marketer’s traditional DMP.
“We don’t have all the answers now,” Badler said. “We have to work with new tech and our existing partnerships to prepare and solve for the cookieless world.”