Evolving advertising: the journey to a people-based engagement strategy
Richard Foster, UK MD, LiveRamp
GDPR has been heralded as being both the end of publishing as we know it (as media owners struggle to persuade users to consent to their data being used) and the potential savour for an industry under increasing pressure from US ‘walled garden’ advertising giants. As with all things, it seems likely that the truth will lie somewhere in between. But, success in the new world order will very much be dependent on how publishers respond to increasing demand from both consumers and marketers alike for content and advertising which more closely align to individual consumers preferences.
In the advertising world, media owners face some long-standing challenges including demonstrating proof of advertising value, ensuring precise levels of targeting (often to an audience which is largely anonymous) and delivering the publisher’s brand promise to loyal and core audiences. Most urgent seem to be the problems faced by programmatic advertising. According to recent research, some 48% of advertisers in North America consider online display to be ‘broken’. Steps have to be taken to fix this primary revenue stream, and quickly. Happily, there are steps that can be taken immediately which will enable media owners to offer solutions at least comparable to the walled gardens, with the potential to evolve publishers’ business models beyond improving ad revenues.
What’s required to tackle this problem are solutions which move on from assuming cookies and mobile ID profiles correlate to actual individuals. As the walled gardens start to face their own challenges, from privacy lobby groups such as NOYB, and from advertisers demanding greater transparency, publishers of all sizes have the opportunity to create an effective common language or currency between each other to lend better levels of identification to the impression. The industry has to refocus on its people, the readers. To do this it needs to be able to offer solutions based on their first-party knowledge of those audiences, their device preferences, their needs and their habits.
It will take better identity resolution to do this, and a renewed focus on recognising those audiences as and when they engage with a platform. As reliance on cookies is revealed to be only a poor proxy for actual individuals, it will be people-based marketing techniques which emerge as the way to connect those anonymous browser dots. A people-based approach can highlight if your site hits are repeat and valued long-term readers, or casual passers-through of your content.
Emerging consortium groups, such as the Advertising ID Consortium (which comprises leading brand, technology and media partners) have been established to realise this concept, providing a united approach to resolving identity across the publishing and advertising ecosystem. A people-based approach makes it much easier for online publishers to understand audiences at a more granular level and to present a more consistent, tailored and relevant advertising solution. It may even facilitate more of a sharing approach to advertising, enabling greater second party data sharing between one publisher and another, or between publishers and brand partners, helping foster closer alliances between first party data owners and enabling them to further their propositions to consumers as the internet continue to evolve.
LiveRamp’s deterministic identity graph is a key part of any people-based solution. It is helping forward-thinking media owners to gain an individual-level understanding of their audiences (logged in or not), and to enable services to be developed to compete at scale with the walled garden platforms.
Ultimately, we think that people-based marketing solutions will help media owners to invigorate programmatic display advertising with improved relevance, impact, and ROI. We’re already seeing this happening….recent research from the US showed that 1 in 4 US media planners intend to spend more than 50% of their clients media budgets on people-based activity next year.
Publishing stands at the edge of a breakthrough, overcoming the limitations of a cookie-first approach to the online space and delivering greater insight and attribution – and with it, greater engagement and return.