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Ari Sterenson
By
November 01, 2017

How Data Became the Name of the Game

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Developing partnerships in the ad tech world is not what it used to be. It’s shocking, right?

Gone are the days of hyping up your product and all of its amazing and stellar features. Nowadays, bizdev guys like me who primarily work with publishers, need to do more than hype up the product or service we’re selling. Instead, we have to understand what our publishers want and need. And you don’t need me to tell you that publishers’ needs have changed.  Usually those two are mutually exclusive, but not in this case. What publishers both need and want is--drum roll please--data.

I know it seems surprising. In the past, data just used to be a bonus, an extra, an afterthought. But now it’s become so much more. Publishers have become reliant on data and what it can do.

Data has gone through a transformation. Instead of being a bonus, it now plays an integral part in publishers’ display advertising and general advertising strategies. Data allows - just to name a few - publishers to retarget ads, understand their users, provide insights to the brands they work with and maintain user experience.

But like anything, data comes at a price. Data, valuable and usable data, is like buried treasure. In order to get to it, you have to follow that classic ‘X marks the spot’ idea in order to find the hiding place and start digging. It’s not easy to access, and you have to go through a few barriers along the way.  

However, publishers don’t want some half-assed, rinky-dink data that’s not going to make a significant impact on their strategies. They want data that’s going to spur their success and turn their one treasure chest into even more gold.

The type of data that they want is the primo data you and I all know as first-party data, which comes from a user making a direct action. At first, having a user do a direct action seems easy, right? Well, gaining such a direct interaction from an Internet user has proven to be a one of the most difficult goals to achieve for publishers.

Why? Because so many users are wary of revealing personal information online, just like they are sometimes worried to reveal too much in the physical world. Also, users are more aware of the ultimate “end game” of certain types of ads, making them less likely to click on ads. Both situations leave the digital ad industry with lowered CTRs and make first-party data more inaccessible to publishers.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, first-party data is basically the information that you have collected about your audience, visitors and/or users. Hint: you’re the first-party. Usually first-party data is based on cookies and can include information gathered from your website analytics platforms, CRM systems and other business analysis tools.

First-party data is often considered the Big Kahuna of data because it can provide insight about your already existing customers and ultimately help you retarget them. By retargeting, I mean your ability to use info provided from first-party data to provide your users with a much higher rate of relevant ads and enhanced content/individual user experiences. A publisher, for example, might learn first-party data that reveals a percentage of their readers previously purchased tickets to a college football game. The publisher can then use that insightful data to justify their choice to feature advertisements for upcoming collegiate sporting events in their readers’ area.

Going back to the treasure map idea, getting data - especially high quality first-party data - is a bit tricky because publishers must walk a fine line between sacrificing their site’s user experience and getting the gold in order to get data success.

Imagine you’re on a sports site reading about the highlights of the week when this one ad keeps popping up over and over again, asking you to enter your email address along with your answer to a survey of some sort. That ad is infringing on your user experience. So you probably won’t feel inclined to make that direct interaction and create first-party data for that sports site, making that an optimization fail.

Why? Because the user experience was compromised, making it an off-putting experience for the visitor.

Data rules, but not at the expense of the user experience. And if data is not collected and user experience is subpar, then the publisher and the brands they work with lose out on potential revenue by being unable to retarget their users.

So, like the chicken and egg situation, publishers often ask which comes first: revenue or user experience? In either case, the real answer to know is data. Data helps increase revenue without adding more advertising to the page, while highly targeting individual users to create an enhanced user experience. 

Let’s recap: User experience. Data. Cash. These are the Big Three publishers are going to start looking for when searching for new products and services to integrate into their website strategy.  Luckily, Insticator can bring you all of the Big Three.

They used to say content is king, but I’m thinking data is going to take that throne. Let’s talk today about how Insticator can help you prepare for the transition.

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