Group Nine Leaning Into First-Party Data With New Insights Tool

Group Nine Media, which publishes Thrillist, NowThis, The Dodo, Seeker and PopSugar, launched a first-party data solution called “In-GeNuity” earlier this month in response to the coming disappearance of third-party cookies.

The product matches brands with users based on content preferences – such as  bringing together pizza lovers and a pizza delivery service.

“We can say, here's a segment of Papa John's, here's everybody that watched 30 seconds of a Thrillist pizza video over the last six months and we think that they're a better audience to download your app,” said Ashish Patel, chief insights officer at Group Nine.

In-Genuity is integrated with Group Nine’s G9 direct response offering that launched late last year, which allows direct-to-consumer brands to tap into Group Nine’s first-party data trove, then send targeted ads to consumers via Group Nine’s Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Some of the first DTC advertisers to work with G9 Direct include Freshly, Casper, Discovery Plus, Fi and by Humankind. All G9 Direct campaigns will tap In-Genuity. In the first quarter of 2021, Group Nine drove more than 200,000 subscribers to Discovery Plus.

Group Nine joins a long list of publishers and brands who are looking to future-proof via their first-party data.

AdExchanger caught up with Patel.

ADEXCHANGER: Why build a first-party data platform?

ASHISH PATEL: From a macro perspective, all of us [publishers] are doing this in response to the notion of like the cookie apocalypse and all of these third-party data pools drying up.

We think that we're in a good position to provide unique audience segments. Facebook can say, here's a group of people that are interested in pizza, but I can give a pizza company a group of people that have read five or more pizza articles on Thrillist, or have watched 30 seconds or more of a pizza video.

The core differentiator of our data offering is using content preference as the primary point of logic, and engagement depth as our key signal on what users are more likely to convert on a product.

How does the tech work?

Our primary logic is content consumption/preference, and there are other ways to cut the data by demographics – we're starting to try to garner some better income data. We’re not really doing any segmentation by device or ID.

It's all ad targeting logic. We have a data management platform. Basically, it goes from our DMP, usually over to LiveRamp, into their management platform. It's all basically anonymous ID.

How is the upcoming demise of third-party cookies going away changing what your clients demand?

They’re asking for more retargetable data back. It's table stakes at this point. We always thought that if you come to us and we hand you an audience segment that you'll never come back.

But an audience on a specific article will be different if we do another article for them in the future. The sensitivity around that sharing has decreased from the publisher side, and the demand from the advertiser side has increased.

How does In-Genuity fit into the larger strategy with G9 Direct?

We want to start to implement segments from In-Genuity across all of our activities, like top-funnel branded content work. If we can get that to a more targeted consumer at the top of the funnel, that's better for us and our partners.

How has G9 Direct and In-Genuity worked out for Discovery Plus? [Editor’s note: Discovery is an investor in Group Nine Media and created Seeker]

They have “Naked and Afraid” behind a paywall, so we will borrow some of those assets and say, hey “Seeker” fans, check out this show that we know you'll like, through a lot of signals we have on our side. So that ad would have tags like Discovery Plus – because that's the advertiser – it would have the subscription product, it would have the price, and it would have “Naked and Afraid,” a reality show about nature and survival.

At some point we can pull out everything tagged ‘nature’ and then create an audience that way.

We've also done an initial test with a feature-length documentary called “The Swim” that we created for “Seeker.” We've been using that to drive “Seeker” audiences into Discovery Plus subscribers.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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