Publishers: Data Strategy First, Then Management And Execution

The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Ameet Shah, senior director of global technology, publisher and data strategy at Prohaska Consulting.

Buyers (advertisers) and sellers (publishers) are crucially aware of the importance of data. But too often, departments develop siloed data strategies, minimizing the overall value of data within an organization. This must be addressed for data to be activated effectively.

Data must be at the center of a publisher’s world so they can sell digital advertising and develop customer relationships via enhanced marketing and CRM efforts. Publishers must tackle data from both the ad tech and mar tech perspectives. These efforts are rarely combined, but there are tremendous opportunities to expand all capabilities when these elements come together.

Publishers should consider how each team uses data and whether they could work together to better support each other’s needs. Could these combined efforts improve the company’s overall effectiveness?

Ad Tech + Mar Tech = Unified Strategy
(Simplified illustrative example)

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Developing A Unified Data Strategy

Leveraging and extracting the maximum value from data will benefit the publisher overall by increasing opportunities in capabilities including ad sales, audience development, content creation, personalized experiences, marketing and beyond.

First-party data is a publisher’s distinct and differentiated value. Knowing the unique behaviors of customers is a key competitive advantage, and the value of this customer insight cannot be overstated. Publishers are most effective when a companywide unified data strategy is put in place by incorporating all the various sources of the first-party data available to them versus using only a subset that each department can access.

Publishers need to understand the entirety of their first-party data collection sources to create their data-focused strategy. First-party data types include a user’s site preferences, ZIP code for weather, site content preferences, subscriber status, user behavior and frequency on site, contest entries, email subscribers and respondents to outbound marketing efforts.

Second-party data, where another company’s first-party data is packaged and shared with noncompetitive partners, can be a meaningful and lucrative exchange for both parties if they are willing to share their data.

Publishers need to consider what type of data segments can be created, the frequency of user visits and the consistency of their behavior patterns. They must also consider the bottom line: How can the use of data impact the organization’s revenue goals? The cost implications of selecting the appropriate solutions for the organization will enable an ROI assessment to be done. This needs to be a positive ROI activity for the organization.

Where To Manage Data?

For most publishers, using a DMP is the ideal strategy. However, it is not the only approach.

For smaller publishers, a DMP can be too expensive and may not generate a positive ROI regardless of its potential. For these publishers there are other ways to get into the data game. Leveraging tag management or data exchange solutions, for example, will give a publisher access to third-party data sources, allowing them to receive basic analytics on their audience and provide opportunities to offer audience extension. It’s not a fully loaded DMP of course, but it’s not bad either.

For a larger publisher, a robust DMP may not in and of itself provide all the capabilities needed. For many publishers, emerging data lake solutions might be the ideal way to go.

A data lake gives a publisher control of all of its first-party data, especially in high data-privacy environments, the ability to control its users’ cross-device entities and the ability to generate machine learning-powered insights into specific audiences, traits and behaviors. The data lake manages all data, connections and mapping in conjunction with the DMP as an activation platform for targeting execution.

Data Solutions and Capabilities Matrix
(Simplified for illustrative purposes)

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Building The Data Team

An effective corporate data strategy requires input from numerous stakeholders to understand platforms, data assets, implementation plans and budgetary considerations. Data-focused solutions will impact many groups, and all stakeholders need to be included during the planning stage. This will ensure that each group is able to contribute to the most robust solution for the enterprise. All teams must have some say in how data is tracked and will be used and what resources are needed to support business needs; without the inclusion of all teams’ input, the solution is incomplete and the ROI inaccurate.

Data Strategy Planning Team

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Strategy First, Then Execution

Developing a unified data strategy that represents the overall publisher’s interests will greatly enhance the selection of the right solution, increase data-focused capabilities and improve the overall financial ROI, while minimizing risks.

It’s not about departmental turf wars or isolated planning sessions. The goal is to minimize the number of platforms, embrace collaboration and develop data convergence to deliver an impactful corporate data strategy. This does extend the overall timeline to formulate the corporate strategy but will ultimately pay dividends in the long term as publishers implement the ideal solution for their unique business needs.

Follow Prohaska Consulting (@TeamProhaska) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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