SVP Zucker Discusses Ziff-Davis Category Expertise And New BuyerBase Ad Platform

Ziff-DavisYesterday, technology media company Ziff-Davis, led by former Time Digital President Vivek Shah, announced a new advertising platform called BuyerBase, which leverages publisher network targeting data and buys across other inventory supply sources on behalf of advertisers.

According to the release, “BuyerBase collects, scores and analyzes data from more than 100 tech content and commerce sites, including Ziff Davis’ owned-and-operated properties. (…) BuyerBase processes more than a billion buying signals each month to determine which products buyers are ready to purchase. The data is then applied to target relevant product offers to consumers as they surf the web by running targeted advertising on a range of comScore 500 sites.” Read more.

Ziff-Davis’ SVP/GM, Data Solutions, Bennett Zucker discussed the announcement of the new platform and its feature set. With BuyerBase, it appears you’re a believer in the data cooperative model as a solution for the publisher similar to Akamai and others.  How will you differentiate?

BZ: BuyerBase is actually quite different. First, we’re digital publishers, not an ad network, tech provider or data aggregator. We also happen to have a singular focus on the technology market, though our model can certainly work in other verticals. We are category experts, and this is reflected in the breadth and depth of data we collect, all of which relates to what and how buyers search for, research, compare and price any of tens of thousands of tech products that we have handled and reviewed in our product test labs.

This is an important distinction because publishers create and nurture the audience relationship with ongoing investment in content. If any revenue is to be derived from responsible management and use of audience data, we believe it belongs to digital publishers. That is why in creating BuyerBase we chose to reward partner publishers for the ability to tap the rich vein of product-centered data generated by their audiences and not get involved at all with their ad inventory.

What’s the right publisher for BuyerBase? Just Ziff Davis owned and operated? Do you plan to open it up to a wider group of publishers?

Ziff Davis owns and operates the most rigorous product testing laboratory in our industry. We tear down, test and review many thousands of new tech and consumer electronics products annually and maintain an authoritative product database that is the core of our content, data and commerce businesses.

We look for publishers who share a commitment to providing information and utility that helps consumers make smarter decisions when they are in market to buy everything from smartphones, game consoles and HDTVs to tablets, laptops and printers. Typically, these are sites run by people who live and breathe tech and who may not care to build a BuyerBase on their own or have the resources to do so.

How will insights from the data drive content?  Can you see becoming a “Demand Media” for coupons, for example?

That is certainly an interesting way to look at it. There are many ways BuyerBase complements and supports both our content and commerce businesses, and insight derived from data is a big part of this. Our challenge is deciding which opportunities to pursue and in what order.

Right now we’re very focused on building a big, robust data business that generates the bulk of its revenue from the sale of advertising that targets in-market buyers of tech when they are on better quality sites that work with ad exchanges.

Is there an application for marketers looking to drive brand awareness rather than direct response and the delivery of coupon offers?

In fact, we’re doing both direct response and brand advertising right out of the gate. We are testing different metrics, offering cost per engagement and cost per acquisition models, and expect our experience will result in our bringing some new thinking and a fresh approach to both DR and branding.

How will you address consumer privacy concerns as your network of BuyerBase publishers cookies users?

We built consumer protection right into our business model from the start. Once again, our distinction as a publisher makes us particularly sensitive to this. It is entirely our responsibility to foster trust with our audience.

BuyerBase and all of the Ziff Davis owned and operated sites are among the first publishers to fully comply with the Digital Advertising Alliance Self-Regulatory Program for Online Behavioral Advertising. We work with Better Advertising to provide the industry best practice of both on-site and in-ad notice. This ensures that full disclosure and choice come as a standard part of doing business with Ziff Davis and with BuyerBase.

For effective targeting, ad creative is an important lever. Can you provide details on who you have creative solved for the BuyerBase platform?

You are right about the importance of ad creative. We push back very hard when advertisers provide creative that doesn’t align with what they expect to accomplish.

For example, in one test in December an advertiser’s goal was to drive sales in multiple product categories through multiple commerce partners. So with what ad creative did they expect to produce these results? Well, let’s just say the world did not need another “Season’s Greetings from Brand XYZ” banner! Where’s the call to action? We offer you the chance to target in-market buyers down to specific product SKUs. We can use dynamic creative optimization to connect your multiple etailers, multiple product categories and even individual products to any consumer. Why on earth would you want to run generic banners?

By John Ebbert

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