Bloomberg: ‘For Us, First-Party Data Just Makes Sense’

Julia Beizer is the chief product officer and global head of digital at Bloomberg Media

Julia Beizer is the chief product officer and global head of digital at Bloomberg Media. She will appear on Day One of AdExchanger’s virtual Programmatic IO conference on Oct. 5. Register to experience her session, along with more than 40 others, at Programmatic.io.

As the industry debates the future of digital identity and vendors begin rolling out their solutions, publishers need to be careful before signing onto anything.

The question that publishers need to ask themselves, says Julia Beizer, chief product officer at Bloomberg Media, is this: Will the solution I’m being pitched help serve my audience, grow our users and drive revenue?

“Publishers should be very choosy and take a hard look at what we decide to take on,” Beizer said. “There are some more niche solutions out there that might be right for a single use case, but not worth the time and attention a publisher would need to spend building for it.”

More broadly, though, the reckoning that ad tech vendors, marketers and publishers are experiencing right now, is overdue.

“This is a hard place for the industry to be,” Beizer said, “but a necessary place to be.”

Beizer spoke with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: In a nutshell, what is Bloomberg’s approach to first-party data?

JULIA BEIZER: Data informs every decision we make when it comes to our business, and, for us, first-party data just makes sense. Being able to better understand our audience is critical to us.

We’ve done cool work with propensity modeling and building out a fully functioning marketing apparatus for on and off-platform marketing based on what we know about our users.

We’ve seen a shift in the industry toward using first-party data as a way to reimagine the ad business.

What’s an example of Bloomberg reimagining its ad business?

We have a very distinctive audience on bloomberg.com, people who have been shaped by the technological revolution and who follow all of the latest trends across a number of topics. They’re decision-makers. If marketers are trying to reach these modern readers – which is what we call them internally – we’re a great partner to work with, because we know how these people think.

It starts with understanding who this audience is, how we can best serve them and how we can be the best strategic partner to marketers through the right targeting and the right creative.

What role do subscriptions play, and how do you think about monetizing new types of content for Bloomberg, such as the lifestyle site Bloomberg Wealth, which launched last week?

Subscriptions have been a wonderful revenue opportunity for us and also an opportunity for me to build a product that users tell us they want and that they’re willing to keep paying for. Data underpins all of that strategic work.

Bloomberg Wealth is a perfect example. Subscribers, and people on the fence about subscribing, both told us that they want more personal finance content from us, and so we’re doubling down. As we move forward, we’ll keep looking for new areas where Bloomberg can credibly play in and that will also have a meaningful impact on our subscription business and on audience lift.

Looking at all of the big changes that are happening with different kinds of IDs, the big question I’m thinking about is how valuable any of these new solutions will be compared to how valuable a subscriber is to me – because a subscriber is very valuable.

Does third-party data have a quality problem?

Third-party data does get a bad rap, but it can also offer a lot of scale and texture. It’s not a definitive source, but it will continue to be one of many sources.

And with the algorithms we use to improve our site or do better targeting, we can decide how to weight all of the different sources. We can rank first-party data higher than third-party data, for example, but third-party data still has a role to play.

What do you think of the proposals circulating in the Privacy Sandbox and other post-cookie industry initiatives?

Consumers are telling us they don’t want to be targeted in this way, and we have to listen to that. So, this is absolutely the right conversation for the industry to be having. But it’s early days, the clock is ticking and, as far as solutions go, we’re not there yet.

Let’s see how the universal ID conversations play out and whether there will be something in the market that we want to embrace. Right now, it seems like, “Meet the new boss, same as the old boss,” and the industry can do better.

If you could choose a bird species to inspire the initialism for the next Privacy Sandbox proposal, what would it be?

ROBIN, because one of the joys of quarantine for me was watching the robins dig up worms on rainy days in my yard.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Follow Allison Schiff (@OSchiffey) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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