Did you miss our blockbusting webinar with Matthew Rance about the strategies Immediate Media uses to offer true value to clients by leveraging special interest content? Don’t worry, we have gathered all the highlights for you – and if you want the full experience, you can watch the recording of the webinar at the end of this post.

Today, first-party data is more relevant than ever and at the same time, something that all publishers have the potential to provide. So, how can publishers differentiate themselves from the others, through their unique audience potential?

In the webinar, our own Tom Page had a conversation with Matthew Rance, Commercial Audience Manager at Immediate Media, about the state of the industry and the opportunities publishers have in this singular moment.

The power of audience understanding in pre-sales

When explaining how Immediate Media is leveraging their audience potential, Matthew initially explains how they have committed themselves to using audience understanding to build buyer confidence before any money has changed hands. As a publisher, they have a huge wealth of data, and they are the experts in understanding users in a first-party context. For this reason, they choose to have a “proactive” and a more consultative approach with clients.

For Matthew, this translates into their pre-sales strategy where Immediate Media tries to focus on how to offer something that feels custom and tailored to their client by leveraging their data. This can be done, for example, by trying to tell a client something they wouldn’t know about their target audience – paint a picture of who these users are.

Matthew also points out that when it comes to an audience brief response, proving the number of users you have in a segment and how many impressions you can deliver is not enough anymore. Publishers need to be able to offer the kind of solution you might expect from a partnership team, but for every brief.

To be able to do this, Matthew explains how Immediate Media uses AudienceProject’s Kits to apply a standard level of customisation to all their brief responses. With this, they can build brand-specific pre-sales kits that prove unique reach against a specific target audience with insight into who these users are in a matter of a few minutes. The tool is easy to use and allows Immediate Media to hand over the interface to their sales team without them relying on AudienceProject to provide any support. Matthew points out how this aspect is very beneficial to Immediate Media as they are able to upskill their sales teams in how to use the data output on-the-go to enhance their proposals.

The importance of offering client-specific first-party segments

A theme that particularly concerns the industry at the moment is Google’s intention to discontinue the support for third-party cookies within the next two years. This theme was also brought up during the webinar.

According to Matthew, there is going to be a huge disconnect between what buyers want to buy and what publishers are able to sell. That said, it will still be important for publishers to continue to be able to offer demographic audience segments based on the fact that the majority of briefs that publishers receive are still focused on a very broad demographic audience.

For most publishers though, it is a very hard thing to offer demographic segments using first-party data. For instance, many will make assumptions about what demographic a user falls into based on the content they view.

By using AudienceProject’s AudienceHub, Matthew explains how Immediate Media is able to build quality demographic audiences using deterministic data, meaning that they can offer highly accurate segments without relying on third-party data.

The way this is done is by asking specific questions in UserReport surveys that they are deploying on their websites. By doing this, they harvest first-party data, which they use in AudienceHub to create custom scaled audiences and later activate on custom campaigns.

The pros and cons of the phasing out of third-party cookies

Clearly, the death of third-party cookies will affect the way publishers generate revenue from advertising. In the webinar, Matthew presented the pros and cons of this from his point of view.

When focusing on the negative consequences, Matthew points out that it is fair to say that Immediate Media still makes money from the open exchange, which is, of course, a threat as it gets progressively harder for buyers to identify users. Another con is that the industry needs to put a lot of thought, effort and probably investment into coming up with long-term solutions.

On the other hand, Matthew explains, there are positive implications as well. First of all, the phasing out of third-party cookies is good for user privacy.

Secondly, there’s never been more impetus for publishers and brands to be forming more direct relationships with each other, where both have a first-party relationship with the user and can tackle the challenges they face with assurances in compliance and addressability.
Instead of waiting for the industry to simply come up with an alternative to enable programmatic to exist in “the same way” as it does now, Matthew argues that publishers and brands have a fantastic opportunity to shift the balance of power in their favour instead.

That said, both parties need to be shaping how they want this to look in the next year or so, as Google’s phasing out of third-party cookies could already come in 6 months time. Immediate Media is very aware of this, and they’ve seen some really promising results from investing more time in forming direct relationships with their clients.

Finally, Matthew feels that there is a misconception in the industry about that “contextual” is going to be the default method of digital execution now and that audience targeting will no longer have any real value.

Although contextual targeting is going to be hugely important as we move into this new era of browser and privacy evolutions, it’s pretty short-sighted to say that this is going to be the death of audience targeting. Our media industry is one of the most innovative industries out there, and will be able to come up with a solution for this. Publishers will still need to offer audience segments, and buyers will still demand these. Ultimately the demise of third-party data is only going to drive demand for those who can still offer audience targeting which of course is the publishers.

A piece of advice for publishers today

To sum up how publishers can leverage their audience potential, Matthew shared this advice for publishers in today’s media industry:

As a publisher, you have to ask yourself: “What would happen to your revenue and business if third-party cookies were blocked overnight? How reliant are you on the open exchange revenue? How advanced is your first-party data offering? And how many clients do you have a strong direct relationship with?

This will give you a good indication of how much you’ve got to do to prepare for this and how imperative it is to start up a collaboration with your clients.

Get the full experience

If you want all the details from Matthew and Tom’s conversation, you can watch the webinar in its full length below. Enjoy!