Using data to grow out of that awkward print-to-digital phase

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The shift from print to digital business models can be jarring for many if not most publishers. Lotame’s Adam Lehman calls it the “ugly adolescent transition,” when rising digital revenue does not yet compensate for dwindling print dollars.

Audience data is becoming an increasingly valuable asset in this transition. But many publishers are still in the early stages of mastering techniques for leveraging audience data for targeting and other premium advertising programs.

“Traditional publishers have to start taking better advantage of new technologies that allow them to better monetize their content,” said Lehman, Lotame’s chief operating officer. Lotame, of course, has skin in this technology game: It sells Crowd Control, a data management platform (DMP) for publishers, marketers and ad networks.

A publisher’s audience has long been the one unique asset it can use to sell premium inventory. But advertisers are increasingly looking to target ever-narrower audience segments, requiring more detail than publishers can divine through traditional web analytics.  

A DMP can help publishers expose hidden value in their audiences, said Lehman. For example, publishers often overlook “influencers” – people who actively share content and have robust social media followings. Programs that target these influencers – an attractive segment to advertisers – can drive higher CPMs.

Lotame uses proprietary technology to examine as many as 100 different visitor interactions on a page – everything from viewing content to posting a comment to sharing a post on social media, which Lotame can track across multiple devices. By layering in third-party data, publishers can create ever-narrower segments that appeal to specific advertisers.

Niche vs. scale

Creating these types of "micro-segments" can introduce scale problems into the equation, however. A publisher may have an attractive niche but can’t offer a large enough audience to attract advertisers. To address that challenge, Lotame recently introduced Crowd Syndicate, which Lehman said allows publishers to “extend and enrich” their audiences in a controlled environment.

Crowd Syndicate, which runs on the Crowd Control DMP, enables publishers to set up data exchanges for sharing first-party data with other vertical publishers (who also must be using Lotame’s DMP). This “second-party” data is more reliable than third-party data and gives publishers more control over what they share and with whom.

“With third-party data, there are questions around data quality, data sources, and relative value,” said Lehman. “Second-party data addresses all of those questions and offers predictability in the way in which the data is collected and categorized.”

Lehman said more than 50 publishers currently use Lotame’s Crowd Control, primarily for ad targeting. Some, he said, are beginning to experiment with the DMP for dynamic content delivery tuned to visitor activities. “It’s the same concept for content – but instead of plugging it into the ad server, you plug it into the CMS,” he explained.

Lotame is also working on a new analytics product, called Crowd Insights, which it plans to release at the end of the third quarter.

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