Publishers Arming Themselves With Data To Fight For Programmatic Dollars

ProgrammaniaData-based buying requires data-based selling, a theme that ran through the Association of Magazine Media’s Programmania conference Thursday.

Magazine publishers have an advantage over digital-only publishers. Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith and Bloomberg Media have all strengthened their first-party data by creating insights and segments within data-management platforms and offering them to advertisers.

“Not only do we have tremendous storytelling abilities, we have deep insights from an audience standpoint,” said Lesley Nadler, executive director and head of digital sales for Condé Nast, during a conference panel.

“We introduced to the marketplace a new notion of premium at scale,” Nadler said, referring to Condé Nast’s 80 million readers, from which advertisers can buy premium contexts.

Meredith has created over 4,000 attributes in its DMP, which it sells to advertisers and also leverages to understand advertisers’ buying strategies.

For instance, Meredith mapped bidding data to its segments and realized one advertiser was bidding and losing often on gardening content. That insight paved the way for a conversation with the advertiser about setting up a private marketplace to give the advertiser access.

When creating data segments, Meredith considers how audience behavior maps to different parts of the customer journey. A segment created from people who save recipes, for example, can be used by an advertiser interested in buying audiences with purchase intent.

“Those are powerful data sets,” said Alysia Borsa, SVP and chief data officer for Meredith Digital. “Make sure you capture them.”

Hearst took its data-management platform Core Audience, part of its iCrossing marketing business, and “repositioned it as an audience and performance arm that services the entire organization,” said Todd Haskell, SVP and chief revenue officer for Hearst Magazines Digital Media.

Sales engineers, which Haskell finds in short supply, are key to activating data.

“People in operations or project management make a huge difference in customer satisfaction,” Haskell said. “We’re thinking about how to develop their careers so they want to stay with us longer.”

While many talk about training salespeople to be fluent in programmatic, Haskell said the harder part is finding people who understand how to execute the deals.

Bloomberg Media Group recruited a NASA-trained data science team to activate its audience data, said Paul Caine, chief revenue and chief partnerships officer for Bloomberg Media Group.

Finally, when a publisher or advertiser shares its first-party data, there must be trust.

“I’m convinced that the future success of what we do today is based on collaboration,” said Mac Delaney, SVP of programmatic at media agency Starcom Mediavest. “Where data is shared, there has to be trust and reassurance.”

The stakes are high. Publishers and buyers who succeed in collaborating with data will “come out first,” he said.

Publishers should also think about applying data beyond just programmatic sales, said Anush Prabhu, partner and chief planning and investment officer for agency Deutsch NY.

“People don’t differentiate between data-driven and programmatic,” Prabhu said. “Data can be a tactic for anything. We’re trying to meld creativity in buying more often, because more is possible now.”

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