Awards Article 3

By advertisers, for publishers: The client perspective on building effective partnerships

Published: 18 Mar 2024

When we asked publishers where they see the biggest opportunity for advertising revenue growth in the next three years, around 75% of respondents selected ‘Direct Deals’. With third-party cookies winding down, publishers are leaning into the strength of their first-party data and consumer insights to partner with advertisers more effectively.

“In this very complex and turbulent time in our industry, agencies and brands need to find new ways to build partnerships with digital publishers to offer a unique set of tools and expertise that can significantly enhance our marketing efforts,” shared Sherrick Chavda, Group Director, Audience & Data Strategy, EMEA at Initiative.

But what support can publishers offer advertisers? We reached out to our client-side AOP Digital Publishing Awards judges to understand what it is they’re looking for from digital publishers in order to improve the effectiveness of their own marketing.

Provide robust, standardised campaign data

According to Lucy Amos, Director / Head of Social Media (UK & EMEA) at The Walt Disney Company, “without pixels and deep measurement metrics in place, it is increasingly difficult to justify investment in campaigns that only provide traffic or impression data.”

On top of this, as digital publishers, we need to do more than be transparent with results; significant work also needs to be put in place to standardise measurement techniques across the industry to ensure results are comparable.

Take ‘attention’ as a metric. Jasmin Kaur, Global Managing Partner at Havas Media Network, highlighted that attention is an increasingly important metric for advertisers due to its tangible links to effectiveness. However, we need to continue developing our understanding of ‘attention’ as an industry. “Measuring attention is a new concept, and more needs to be done by publishers, plus the industry, in terms of standardising metrics and the technology used to measure attention for advertisers to understand the impact of their advertising campaigns,” Jasmin continued.

Make your consumer insights more readily available

As we continue to mature our understanding of our audiences, digital publishers are becoming essential players during the strategic planning stages of a campaign. “Sharing of trends and insights regularly would help agencies to better understand what is going on in the real world,” explained Gillian Blair, Planning Partner at Wavemaker UK. “With better consumer insights, you can identify pain points and understand the challenges and frustrations target audiences are feeling[.] We can tailor content formats that tap into the different ways people consume media, optimising targeting through identifying the right channels and platforms where target audiences are most likely to engage with it.”

As well as strengthening your relationship, building a regular communication channel with agencies allows their teams a better understanding of what would work with your audience. Whilst this may not be appropriate for the pitch currently being explored, sharing these insights allow agency teams to respond agilely to new requests and keep your publishing brand top of mind for the next pitch.

Help advertisers in reaching their audiences

In a post-cookie world, there is growing uncertainty from advertisers about how they will reliably reach their target audience.

Havas Media Network’s Jasmin Kaur asked for publishers to “explore methods of improving and optimising consent rates on their websites or platforms.” Jasmin then went on to explain that sufficient data is needed to allow advertisers to target relevant users and demonstrate campaign effectiveness.

Aside from grappling with the consent challenge, publishers are also identifying innovative new ways to segment their audiences to allow advertisers to be more strategic with who they target and are developing solutions to reach consumers who have opted-out of ‘traditional’ advertising. This was evidenced in several of the presentations at this month’s AOP CRUNCH discussion – but what was also clear from the discussion was that more work is needed to educate advertisers and agencies on the solutions that are available to them and how solutions that aren’t reliant on third-party cookies can continue to deliver highly effective campaigns.

Provide the space for advertisers to trial new ideas and technologies

The digital landscape is in a constant state of flux, and a common theme from our client-side judges called for more support in trialling new approaches. For example, Initiative’s Sherrick Chavda explained that partnering with publishers created an opportunity for advertisers and agencies to stay ahead of the curve and access cutting-edge marketing solutions.

Gen AI – and AI more broadly – has caught the attention of the industry, and according to Carol Chen, Global CMO & SVP at Shell Mobility, advertisers are looking to understand better how these technologies can drive marketing effectiveness, whilst remaining compliant with data privacy regulations: “Any successful use cases that’s proven, working, and scalable will be highly appreciated.”

Of course, trialling any new approach comes with a degree of risk, and advertisers are also looking to digital publishers to share some of this burden. “Allowing marketeers to run trial campaigns at a reduced rate or scalable on results provide an almost risk-free opportunity to discover the strength of an offering of audience,” shared The Walt Disney Company’s Lucy Amos. “The proof is in the pudding: if it delivers, then it’s a no brainer addition for future campaigns.”

Partner with companies who align with your brand values

Finally, advertisers are looking for digital publishers who reflect their own values. Initiative’s Sherrick Chavda stressed that partnering with a digital publisher that aligns with an advertiser’s brand and audience is key to building trust and allowing advertisers to position their brand as an industry authority.

The Walt Disney Company’s Lucy Amos shared a similar sentiment, stating that “it is essential that any solution being offered is aligned with the objectives, target audience, and band values of the marketing campaign. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it is surprising how often these clash, resulting in both a failure to deliver on KPIs and a negative impact on brand perception.”

The final deadline for AOP Digital Publishing Awards is this Thursday 21st March – make sure you enter now for your chance to win! Please email if you have any questions – we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!


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