3 steps publishers must take to maximize first-party data

If and when third-party cookies finally go away, it is critical that advertisers and publishers bring these capabilities in-house. However, all this first-party data needs to be centralized, standardized and cleaned across a publisher’s portfolio, otherwise revenue will be lost. Versium’s Chris Matty explains more…

As Google, Facebook and other tech companies are creating walled gardens for their advertising data, publishers are building their own first-party data strategies to better monetize in a cookieless world.

However, most publishers right now can’t come close to the amount and sophistication of data these Big Tech companies have – companies that have been collecting and standardizing data on the internet from day one. Some publishers we’ve spoken with don’t even have a simple, up-to-date list of all the businesses who subscribe to their publication. Having dirty data makes ad performance exponentially worse – which leads to low ROI for advertisers.

How can publishers clean up data to increase value and leverage it more effectively? Google has extended the timeline for publishers to transition away from third-party cookies until 2024, and to take full advantage of this extra time, publishers need to act now to build out their first-party data, focusing on three key areas.

Step 1: Centralize – Publishers need to centralize data to create a holistic view of customer data and ensure compliance across all media properties.

For publishers, capturing identity data of visitors and users as they engage with different properties through log-in forms, browser and mobile meta data capture is crucial to optimize advertising targeting. Centralizing this data allows for comprehensive compliance control and third-party data enrichment that substantially increases the value and usability of this first-party data. Identity resolution correlates and maps multiple different contact points associated with a user or website visitor, such as email addresses, mobile ID’s, phone numbers or even physical addresses. The more contact points a marketer has for an individual or a segment of people, the greater the ability to match additional data. Mapping additional contact points is extremely valuable in synchronizing omnichannel marketing and greatly increases the ability to reach these people across the spectrum of marketing channels.

Once the data is centralized, it can be enriched with additional contact points and insights that bring substantial value to the advertiser. This allows for specific targeting across all publisher sites – like targeting households with higher income levels, households with children, or software companies with revenues over $500 million, and so on. Enriching with additional data points greatly expands the impressions that the advertiser can spend against and improves targeting, which translates to more revenue for the publisher. Many digital marketers and publishers rely on third-party cookies to facilitate this type of expanded reach and targeting to maximize advertising revenues. If and when third-party cookies go away, it is critical that advertisers and publishers bring these capabilities in-house.

By centralizing this data, consent for its use can be obtained in one media property and can then be extended to all publisher content and marketing vehicles, which is critical to accomplish in the evolving privacy environment.

Step 2: Standardize – Data often has formatting ambiguities and most publishers don’t have a “global data model” across properties.

Data standardization is crucial in its use. If the components of an address are not standardized, the same address in two different databases may not be able to be matched or determined to be the same address. Consider if the city St. Louis is spelled differently (Saint Louis) in different databases. In such a case, identity mapping cannot be done without standardization because the characters in the database cell are different. In social media environments, one might see “The Big Apple” as a location. If this is standardized to “New York,” now identity mapping can be used. Also some databases may contain the full address in one cell and in others city, state and zip may each be in their own database cell. There are hundreds of data standardization problems that cause issues when using data most effectively.  Identity technology solutions have extensive libraries, rules and scripts that automate the ability to normalize and standardize all these types of problems that are seen in data.

Step 3: Cleanse – To err is to be human. Data collection comes with entry errors, digitization errors, false information, and duplicates. Verification can be difficult.

There are all kinds of errors and missing fields in marketing data sets – virtually all data at some point is entered by a human and many mistakes are made. These errors cause the same problem in contact or identity data mapping. More importantly, a badly formatted email will prevent messages from being received.

There are a number of automated data cleanse tools available in the market that have extensive libraries of all the types of errors that can exist in marketing databases. Scripts can be run that process databases and fix all the types of problems noted above. Good solutions don’t replace or delete the original data so it’s always possible to revert back to the original structure if that is necessary or unexpectedly impacts some other system.

Aside from entry errors, contact data can get old and outdated. People move to different addresses and switch emails. It’s always important to update contact data with additional and alternative contact points to ensure the greatest ability to reach customers and prospects across all digital channels. If an email marketer has too high a bounce rate, poor inbox delivery, etc, the ISP can blackball or shut down emails from getting to their intended audiences (for all emails from the domain where this was observed). This can be a massive problem. But there are ways to prevent this from occurring. It’s possible to use third-party validation services, which will process these emails to identify which emails are no longer deliverable. They can then be replaced with alternative good emails and the publisher is back in business.

While publishers now have extra time to get their data in order, the sooner they can optimize their first-party data, the sooner they can break the chains tying them to Google and have a self-sufficient advertising business.

Chris Matty
Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer, Versium

Versium is a data technology company helping marketers identify, understand and reach their ideal customer. Versium powers a suite of data technology solutions that help B2B and B2C marketers greatly improve their effectiveness. Versium has spent 8+ years building data assets which includes over 2 billion contact points across 20 million North American companies and 270 million consumer households. The company’s insight solution incorporates over 1 trillion insights attributes. The result is the industry’s richest data technology platform that enables B2B and B2C marketers to better marketing effectiveness.


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