Home The Sell Sider The Real Power Of Publisher Data

The Real Power Of Publisher Data


The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Chip Schenck, vice president of data and programmatic solutions at Meredith Corp.

As marketers and publishers push to leverage first-party data sets to inform target audiences and campaigns, a new normal is emerging: blended data sets that combine first-, second- and third-party data to achieve better outcomes.

These blended data sets are powerful because of the underlying publisher data they incorporate. Publisher data is extremely valuable for marketers because, in many cases, its scale, frequency and recency is greater than what marketers themselves can compile or access.

Publishers have ongoing relationships with consumers in multiple contexts, across multiple verticals and platforms. When a publisher builds segments, they aren’t based on aggregate data, as typical third-party segments are; they’re based on millions of signals shared each moment at the individual level.

Marketers can leverage this data to confirm their target audience, reduce wasted impressions and scale their knowledge of the consumer.

Is This The Right Audience?

Publisher data provides confirmation. For example, a marketer may know a user has been in the market for chicken, but a food publisher has the recency and frequency data to confirm which users are exhibiting the highest levels of intent and can locate additional in-market users the brand might not have identified.

Publisher data lets a marketer say, “This person looked up 32 tailgating recipes yesterday; she’s not in my current pool, but she’s clearly in the market for entertaining – add her to the target.”

Less Waste, Greater Penetration

Publisher data can serve as a useful complement to purchase-based targeting. It can narrow the target audience pool to consumers most likely to purchase items in the next 72 hours, for example, or deepen penetration into audiences not identified via purchase-based targeting.


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While purchase-based targeting can tell marketers who has purchased a product within a certain timeframe, it provides no visibility into where each consumer is in the purchase process and doesn’t include customers who purchased outside of the purchase-based targeting window.

Without publisher intent data, marketers essentially have to advertise to everyone in the segment, every day, to ensure they reach their best targets. Publisher data reduces wasted impressions and expands the potential target audience, helping marketers engage users who are closest to purchase.

A More Complete Profile

Finally, publisher data helps marketers fill the knowledge gap and improve their messaging. For example, a marketer may know that someone is in the market for paint, but not that she’s a mom of two with an avid interest in yoga who also responds best to video advertising.

This data helps marketers build richer, more robust profiles of their target customers and even adapt messaging to foster stronger engagement.

No Silver Bullet

Still, publisher data isn’t a panacea. Its two main challenges are that no single publisher is a one-stop shop and the lack of data standardization across publishers.

Marketers must work with different publishers to acquire different knowledge. For example, Pandora may have great demographic data, while Hulu can provide insight into full-episode viewing habits. Match rates for any given publisher can be low, and even platforms with huge audiences such as Google and Facebook don’t house every piece of data needed by brands.

The lack of standardization across publisher data increases the challenge. There are a wide variety of formats, from Ad-IDs to cookie-based data, which make apples-to-apples insights difficult. Cross-publisher duplication also presents a hurdle when multiple formats are used, making it hard to manage reach and frequency.

Audience segment definitions similarly lack standardization. One publisher may define “pasta lovers” as people who read five pasta articles a month, while another may set the threshold at 20.

To make the best use of publisher data, marketers must understand where a publisher’s data strengths lie and select the best key partners for their needs, taking into account data sources, attribute depth and unique overlays. By placing their bets and keeping selections narrow, marketers can gain deeper understanding of the audiences that provide the most effective ROI, increase market penetration and deliver sales lift – far better than they ever could on their own.

Follow Meredith Corp. (@MeredithCorp) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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