Why PMC says first-party data is “a win for everybody”

November 24, 2020 5 min read

  • Aphrodite Brinsmead, Product Marketing Manager at Permutive

  • Publishers adopting first-party data strategies are already seeing huge lifts in advertising revenue and there’s more to come through closer partnerships with advertisers in the near future.

    That was the big takeaway from Permutive’s recent “Make Possible” virtual event “A Post-Cookie World – How Publishers and Advertisers Move Forward”.

    Penske Media Corporation’s (PMC) Chief Advertising and Partnerships Officer, Mark Howard, revealed the business has already seen a 20% increase in CPMs since launching its first-party studio, Atlas. The new platform is based on Permutive’s technology and has already helped the publisher form more than 530 highly focused customer segments across its portfolio of sites, which includes Billboard, Rolling Stone and Variety.

    To add a little more detail, Howard gave one example of a new audience it worked with Permutive to refine, so it could offer one of its largest financial services advertisers a “segment within a segment”. The niche was formed by discovering people whose online behaviors across its portfolio of sites showed they were interested in financial news. This was then further narrowed down to readers and viewers who also have financial news apps on their smartphone.

    Increasing ad and editorial revenue

    Howard revealed that PMC collects first-party data across its sites through a mixture of paid subscriptions, log-ins, polls, surveys, events, registrations, newsletters and memberships.

    PMC recently opened a subscription service on Rolling Stone which is dedicated to bringing latest industry news to music industry executives. The site had been seen as B2C before, but analysis showed the title also had a lucrative B2B market with users willing to pay for exclusive news content.

    It was easy to see why, then, he summed up the company’s belief that, even though the journey has only just begun, there is a lot of room for optimism.

    “This first-party data strategy is really just in its early stages,” he said.

    “We know there’s a long runway to go until the deprecation of cookies but we believe by having a strong foundation now, (by) really understanding the audiences, adding a lot of this survey data to the anonymous user data that we have based off of people coming to the site who aren’t necessarily in a logged-in environment, it creates a great opportunity.”

    Forming second-party data partnerships

    Where things get even more exciting is the potential for forming partnerships with advertisers who want to use PMC’s first-party data to reach their target audiences. They are able to supplement PMC’s data with their own, to build innovative second-party data alliances.

    “We’re also starting to have really great conversations with people about second-party data relationships and what clean rooms look like and how we can bring our data and their data together to create even more powerful solutions,” he explained.

    “We’re really excited about being able to have that type of dialogue, where we can continue to bring what we believe are unique insights for our audiences and advertising recommendations based off of what we’ve been able to observe and study.”

    Improving publisher and brand relationships

    What became immediately clear is that global brands are just as excited about the opportunity to form new partnerships with media companies to help them understand and target relevant audiences.

    Alyssa Rolfe, Global Head of Paid Media and Social Marketing at IBM, told viewers of the “Make Possible” virtual event that she is very enthusiastic about a future without cookies. She believes that while life will be very different without third-party tracking, the move to a first-party data world has the potential to deepen direct relationships between advertisers and publishers.

    “I think with the shift away from third-party cookies really puts pressure on the industry to think differently and to get innovative,” she said.

    “Publishers can become a treasure trove of data if they can figure out how to authenticate their users, learn about who they are and what they’re doing on their website. There are so many opportunities for brands and publishers to work together to build curated audiences.

    “If we can’t use third-party cookies, when we’re buying our media directly to target our audience, then chances are, we’re going to have to go and work with the publisher to build it. I’m guessing that it’s going to end up being even more effective because we’re learning more about our users and what they’re doing, versus relying on cookies.”

    Connecting data across the sales funnel

    Dan Eldine, VP, Head of Data at digital advertising agency, Essence joined in with Rolfe’s enthusiasm, proving that this is not just a reason for advertisers and publishers to be excited. The loss of third-party tracking has the potential to make it very hard for ad agencies, and their clients, to keep a track of prospects as they move through the sales funnel from awareness to consideration to conversion.

    Publishers who embrace first-party data will be the perfect partners to help agencies and brands understand where prospects and customers are in sales funnels. This becomes even more crucial as people approach conversion, he believes.

    “The loss of being able to connect the dots in the lower funnel becomes more challenging,” he said.

    “I think that’s an interesting opportunity to get closer with publishers to talk about how to create this connective tissue to be able to share audience data and insights, to be able to use survey tools to validate some of the reach and exposure numbers that we’re seeing and do so against known audiences is super important.”

    It was not hard to see why PMC’s Mark Howard saw widely agreed with when he summed up these possible future collaborations as “a win for everybody”.

    The “Make Possible” virtual event “A Post-Cookie World – How Publishers And Advertisers Move Forward” is available to stream online here