How The Stylist Group doubled its advertising yield and increased its targetable inventory from 45 to 100%

The company

The Stylist Group is a leading digital publisher and media platform with pioneering brand Stylist. It creates original magazines, events and digital brands for “women who want more from their world” – a successful, sophisticated, dynamic and urban audience. It reaches a monthly audience of over 4 million and helps market thousands of global brands.

The challenge

David Hayter joined The Stylist Group in June 2017 and other than an ad server, there was little infrastructure in place. His mission was to build the best commercial solutions possible. His first move was to choose a Data Management Platform (DMP) to begin generating insights on its audience that could be used to make better commercial decisions, target advertising and sell better to advertisers.

However, as a fledgling team with ambitious plans, in mid-2018 he realised that the DMP was failing to deliver in a few core areas. Firstly, he realised that they were unable to target all users. Relative to the unique user and page view numbers in Google Analytics and Parsl.ey, the DMP could only identify and target about 45% of them.

The cause was the third-party cookie Stylist’s previous DMP relied on. There was a rapid migration of traffic from desktop to mobile underway. Two years ago, the ratio was 60:40 mobile to desktop – now it is 85:15, with a large proportion of users on iPhones where third-party cookies are blocked. Similarly, a growing percentage of traffic was coming from Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) and Facebook Instant Articles (FIA), both locations where these same third-party cookies were being blocked.

This reduced the audience scale they could offer advertisers when building segments for audience targeting. Additionally, segmentation and analysis of audiences in Stylist’s existing DMP was manual and laborious, which made it impossible to quickly generate insights to sell its audience to advertisers. Consequently, the sales team were unable to sell audience targeting, as they lacked the scale and insights needed. This left inventory entirely commoditised on the open marketplace.

The solution

A new DMP was needed. With no improvement from their previous vendor in sight, Hayter turned to their parent company, DC Thomson, to understand the work they were doing with Permutive. After seeing the results, Hayter decided to switch within a week, without undergoing a sales pitch.

Permutive doesn’t rely on third-party cookies, so Stylist was immediately able to collect, analyse and activate its entire audience across all devices and browsers. Additionally, Permutive is built on edge computing, unlike traditional DMPs built in the cloud. This means that data is processed on the user’s device and isn’t sent back-and-forth to cloud servers. This way, Stylist can target users in milliseconds to serve relevant audience-targeted advertising.

In addition to increasing scale, Stylist can now better understand and package their audience. With Permutive, Stylist can easily segment users at a granular level using all of the information that they are collecting about on-site behaviour. For segmentation and analysis, they can also look back at all historical data, with none of the previous limits. This builds a much more insightful picture of all Stylist users.

This insight made it easy to package audiences for advertisers. For example, Stylist was speaking to an advertiser that wanted to target home renters. Hayter and his team at Stylist were able to identify users who rent their homes and tell the advertiser about everything they did on Stylist. This included what content they read and what device or phone provider they used. Telling the advertiser more about their audience’s interests and preferences not only won the business, but also provided strategic direction for the campaign.

It’s not just new business that’s accelerated, it’s also rebookings. The speed and quality of insights that Stylist now offers to advertisers post-campaign have increased. They don’t just report on clicks, but follow up with insights about the users who engaged with the campaign, such as interests and content consumption habits, to build a more accurate picture of who that audience is. This elevates Stylist’s advertiser and agency relationships from transactional to strategic, giving it a seat at the media planning and buying table.

  • 100%

    of users targetable

  • 2x

    increase in advertising yield

  • 50%

    growth in rebooking value


  • Increased targetable inventory

    Targetable inventory went from 45% of the users David could see in Google Analytics to 100%.

  • Increased advertising yield

    2X increase in advertising yield as Stylist was able to sell inventory at higher CPMs, due to the value of audience data.

  • Growth in rebookings

    It is not just rebooking more advertisers, but rebooking them for bigger campaigns. For example, with one advertiser there was a 50% increase in spend from one campaign to the next due to campaign performance and the post-campaign insights offered.

"Within 6 months Permutive has been transformative to our business. Whatever you think you know about your audience, however you think you can target them, without using Permutive you haven’t scratched the surface."

David Hayter, Programmatic, Data and Technology Director at The Stylist Group