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A New Frontier of Publisher Monetization

By Ben Lang

The past few years have unraveled the already-strained relationship between publishers and big tech. 

Publishers leaned on tech giants—Google, Facebook, and others—to grow their brand’s reach and drive new traffic. But the tech giants’ purpose has always been to monopolize audience attention and time. Successfully doing so has established these companies as the most valuable in the world. Conversely, digital publisher monetization has suffered, losing audiences, engagement, and revenue in this zero-sum attention game.

As the enormity of the influence of big tech on our personal lives dawned, governments across the world stepped in with privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA. Amid mounting privacy concerns, these technologies started to adopt new policies—from Apple limiting the PII information shared for tracking to Google’s decision to remove support for third-party cookies on Chrome—threatening the success of online advertising

A blessing in disguise for publisher monetization

‘Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half,’ the famous quote from the forefather of marketing, John Wanamaker, was uttered over 100 years ago. With digital advertising—specifically with third-party cookies—advertisers gained more control over marketing tactics that accurately connected their spend with the results. 

Advertisers understand the value of first-party data more so now in the absence of third-party cookies. They are also looking forward to investing in direct partnerships with publishers. The appetite for data driven through publishers who have a stronger relationship with their consumers addresses two key things: a) user consent-driven segmentation and attribution controls b) a more personalized and respectful brand experience. 

In 2020, the industry saw an uptick in advertisers spending twice as much on PMP deals with first-party data versus the deals without such data. A valid indicator for publishers to lean into their data capabilities—in-house or external—and drive more revenue through direct deals and programmatic buys for smarter publisher monetization. 

Aligning advertisers with audiences

As exciting as this opportunity is, publishers should conduct a detailed review of their tech stack to assess their preparedness to grow engagement, build segments, and target audiences at scale. How do you strengthen the relationship with your audience and grow engagement? By providing a platform for your readers to connect with each other, become loyal to your brand, and return again and again. At a time when advertisers are increasingly seeking ways to be within user generated content (UGC), you need a platform that can constantly spur quality conversations, improve user experience and reduce churn.

A potential barrier most publishers face with their audience data is the ability to understand a reader’s journey and predict their next step. One lesson we have learned from social media giants is capitalizing on user attention. OpenWeb’s AI prediction model can determine the length of attention span to surface a relevant ad—or the likelihood to click-through can guide sponsored content recommendations—or the likelihood to subscribe can push a notification to a brand newsletter or a sponsored event. 

Do you have the right technology to turn these interactions into actionable data insights and your best (highly engaged) consumers into desirable segments, which can be scaled to activate across different environments and devices? OpenWeb’s DMP can help you align user identity with their engagement, interests, demographics, conversation context, emotional affiliation, intent, and more. Using the right tech you can build custom segments to bring in better, targeted advertising and close lucrative deals.

Advanced data platforms can not only resolve a publisher’s need for speed and scale, but can also manage the complex needs of global privacy compliance requirements. 

Amplify your publisher monetization strategies through our custom solutions alongside brand-safe user generated content (UGC) or using our proprietary first-party data insights in your advertising offerings, driving higher yield. OpenWeb has been leading the way for innovative publisher monetization products with trusted partnerships on both demand and supply side. We recently launched our first DSP integration with Centro, improving operational efficiency and ad performance on our partner sites. 

Looking ahead to a cookie-less future

As we get closer to third-party cookie deprecation, you can test drive your transition plans using Safari and Firefox browsers. There’s still time to build a solid foundation, be innovative and package your treasure trove of data for online advertisers. Unlocking the power of your first-party data can propel your people-based targeting capabilities and help build a more reliable identity graph for your readers, versus third-party cookies. 

Want to build a custom data and publisher monetization strategy for your platform?

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