How first-party data is helping The Independent build better audiences for advertisers

August 17, 2023 2 min read

  • With addressability on the open web down as low as 30% and only set to get worse when third-party cookies disappear, an increasing number of publishers are moving toward first-party data-only strategies to enable advertisers to reach audiences and, in turn, drive revenue growth.

    In a Digiday webinar, sponsored by Permutive, The Independent’s Alistair Smith, Head of Commercial Data & Insight, explained why the publisher made the decision to take a first-party-only approach in 2021, and delved into the journey the publisher has been on since then.

    Understanding your audience is key

    The Independent has 72 million unique monthly users, who consume more than two billion articles between them yearly, making it one of the leading digital news brands in the UK and US. More than five million of these users are registered, which is growing every day.

    Increasing the number of registered users – through the publisher’s anonymous-to-known (A2K) strategy – is at the heart of its first-party strategy. Having first-party declared data from these users helps The Independent to understand its audience, and personalise the content and advertising served to them.

    Importantly, registered users also consume 11 times more articles than anonymous users.

    “It’s key to know your audience before you even build your products, using data at the heart of all your intelligence. First party data shouldn’t be just about audiences. It should be part of all sales process, planning, organisation, intelligence reporting, measurement, and research,” said Smith.

    A strategy built for the future

    The latest development of The Independent’s strategy is called ‘Independent AIM,’ which is built on three pillars: Audience, Intelligence, and Measurement.

    In order to improve its audiences, The Independent audited and reviewed its advertising, eventually identifying 20 core behavioural and contextual audiences that would be relevant to the majority of campaign briefs.

    It then worked with Captify to identify up to 300 terms linked with each audience, and took this seed data to Mantis, which used IBM Watson to create audiences that matched the correct context and sentiment.

    Finally, The Independent ingested the audiences into its data management platform through Permutive, where behavioural targeting is centralised and the individuals who fall into each audience are identified.

    This work led to The Independent’s clickthrough rate growing by 27%, while time in view increased 20%.

    Watch the webinar on-demand for more insight into The Independent’s data strategy, plus a Q&A with The Independent’s Alistair Smith and Morika Georgieva, director of customer success and technical services at Permutive.