How Immediate Media increased data-driven ad revenue by 135% using first-party data

The company

Immediate Media is a fast-growing, multi-platform media business. It was founded in 2011 and houses some of Britain's best-loved publishing brands including Radio Times, BBC Good Food, Top Gear magazine, Made For Mums, Cycling Plus and Lonely Planet magazine. Focusing only on special interest markets, it engages over 19 million passionate consumers each month, offering them world-class content and innovative new products and services.

The challenge

Much of Immediate Media’s audience comes from Google and Facebook, and browsers including Safari and Firefox that block third-party cookies by default. This hidden web means that around half of their audience and data are effectively hidden from the advertising ecosystem.

In a world where every single ad is valued based on data, the growing scale of the hidden web becomes a real problem. For Immediate Media, this problem was exacerbated: the nature of its content means that many readers dip in and out of the sites as and when they need to, rather than being regular, everyday readers – so even those users not on privacy-compliant browsers didn’t get a personalized advertising experience if they only visited one page.

Think of that person searching for a particular recipe for a special occasion, the keen cyclist wanting the latest reviews on a piece of equipment or the mum wanting answers to a particular problem. They click through to BBC Good Food, Cycling Plus or Made for Mums because they trust these brands and the information they serve, but once their curiosity is satisfied they don’t necessarily click through to a new page.

Immediate Media’s existing DMP needed from 24 to 48 hours to identify those fleeting, transient readers and relied on third-party cookies: far too long to identify them and service personalized advertising to them. In fact, only around 20% of their audience was known to them. It wanted a real-time and first-party cookie solution to unlock its valuable audiences and provide advertisers with the scale they needed.

The solution

Permutive is a platform that gives publishers real-time access to their audience’s behaviour so that they can make decisions to better monetize and engage each individual.

With Permutive, publishers can create audience segments that update every second using first-party cookies, so that they can sell targeted advertising to their entire audience with no match rate discrepancies.

Permutive partnered with Immediate Media to run a trial across its sites. The first step was deploying Permutive’s technology across its network. Immediate Media then took some of the more custom variables on the page, passing that data through the platform. For instance, on BBC Good Food data is collected down to an ingredients and recipe level, allowing the creation of audience segments such as vegans. There are now upwards of 120 data points that are linked to a user ID and they can react in real-time on around half of the publisher’s sites.

Using Permutive’s analytics tools, Immediate is now able to apply the data it has across a much broader range of media buys. It can overlay customer and consumer insights on to its targeted and contextual buys in a ready-made manner that adds value to clients.

Additionally, Immediate Media has changed the way it sells to clients, reshaped its teams and ramped up its focus on data. With the ability to uncover scale the sales team is now able to better sell that inventory with the creation of an audience playbook document, new products and segments for media buyers.

  • 135%

    more ad revenue in one month

  • 4x

    increase in audience identification from 20% → 80%

  • 7x

    increase in targetable inventory


  • Increased ad revenue

    Advertising revenue from data-driven advertising increased by 135% in one month

  • Greater audience identification

    They went from 20% audience identification with their existing DMP to 80% with Permutive, which translated to a 7x increase in targetable inventory.

  • Improved viewability

    They've culled the number of types of ad units offered, yet make more money and offer more viewable ads. Radio Times, for example, is now 75% viewable with 60% more views from 35% less ad inventory.

  • Larger audiences

    More than 2x increase in audience sizes when 8+ data points were being used to build them

  • Performance uplift

    Increased CTR by an average of 132% compared with the incumbent's segment.

“It was a leap of faith - and it's worked out well for us. Permutive has delivered on everything and more.”

Dominic Perkins, Digital Advertising Strategy Director, Immediate Media