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How declared data will save the publisher business

17 August, 2018 | 

The digital publishing industry has been under increased strain over the last decade due to evolving consumer behavior and increased competition. Declared data can play a key role in solving some of the biggest challenges facing publishers today. Not only can it drive innovation in their advertising products and business models, but it can also renew trust and engagement with their users.

What is declared data?

Declared data is personal information willingly volunteered by users, normally through registrations, micro-surveys, polls and forms. The type of audience data that publishers normally have access to is inferred and based on an online behavior, whereas declared data is freely volunteered by the individual user, meaning that it is more accurate and self-validated by the user.
For example, if a person browses the automotive section of a site, their visitation data infers that they could be planning to buy a new car. This type of behavioral information is still speculative until it’s proven. However if a person answers a short survey to validate that they are planning to buy an SUV in the next 6 months, then this is much more detailed, valuable and actionable purchase intent data.

If you ask the same person a series of questions over time and you can build a rich perpetual profile of a user which can be used to customize their content and advertising experience.

Declared data has been fuelling the market research industry for years but publishers have lacked the tools to build it at scale and connect it to their ad stacks. However, now with advances in technology publishers can use it to turn questions and answers into audience segments that can be targeted for advertising or editorial purposes.

Putting the user in control

With GDPR and Cambridge Analytica bringing data privacy back into the spotlight, we are entering a new era where users expect more power over their personal data. This paradigm shift creates a new challenge for publishers because there isn’t a standard approach for sharing data ownership with their users.
Publishers will need to gain trust and provide tangible benefit to their users in order to support a model where users willingly share their data. These benefits do not necessarily have to be monetary, and could instead be features such as personalised content and enhanced control over the ads that appear. With the rise of ad blocking, offering more control to the user to filter out irrelevant ads is a necessary step to maintain the current digital advertising model.
By enabling users to build and maintain their profiles it will empower users to pull relevant advertising and content towards them.

Declared data can be the competitive advantage for publishers

Studies have shown what the industry has always suspected – that the black box of 3rd party behavioral data is unreliable, leading to nearly $7 billion dollars of global ad spend wastage. Facing this uncertainty, advertisers have shifted their ad spend to platforms like Facebook that have more credible data sources powered by cross-platform user profiles and declared data.

In a time where DMPs are now commonplace, first party behavioral data is also starting to lose value as it becomes more homogenized in the market. Publishers will need to find new ways to differentiate their audiences and advertising products beyond the standard behavioral segments that many competitors can provide using first or third party data.

To stay relevant, publishers need to bolster their ability to provide the type of granular user profile data that Facebook, Google and Amazon have used to gain market dominance. For example, publishers can use declared data from micro-surveys or registrations to build valuable audience groups in their DMP.
Instead of offering an Automotive segment that is not discernibly different from many other Automotive audiences, a publisher could offer an ‘SUV Purchase Intent’ segment based on users confirming they are in the market for this specific model. These granular segments can be used to differentiate their premium private marketplace (PMP) offerings to make these products more compelling for advertisers, leading to higher yield for publishers.

This type of capability will allow publishers to compete with walled gardens, reduce their costs to third party data vendors and also allow them to create their own first party premium data asset that is superior to commonplace behavioral data.

Putting your declared data into action

To successfully implement a declared data strategy there are some challenges to overcome. In this next article we will look at how to put your declared data strategy into action.

About author – Alexx Cass is an expert in digital media, programmatic ad tech and audience measurement with more than 18 years experience in the online industry. In his role as Global SVP Publisher Solutions at Pureprofile Alexx oversees the global strategy, sales & operations for all programmatic & data solutions for publishers. View LinkedIn.

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