Publishers Can Use Their Own Data to Target Content

In just one short year, mobile has propelled itself from second screen to first. The plethora of large screen smartphone models, even in China and India has brought millions of consumers off the couch or into the connected world. Many of those mobile users check their phones 150 times a day. What an amazing opportunity for marketers to deliver messages, as savvy advertisers already know.  But what does this mean for publishers?

For publishers, it means yet another year of change, but this year is more likely to be a year of opportunity. Like advertisers, publishers now have more and better data about their visitors. And in this environment, publishers should act like advertisers; they should market for visitors in much the same way advertisers do, by targeting content.  And by offering their data to advertisers seeking their audiences. But don’t worry; this won’t create more work for publishers, because as with advertising, this kind of targeting can be done programmatically, through automated workflows. Publishers have already begun to develop their own data management resources for targeting in house rather than using outside suppliers, and MediaPost thinks

…there will  be a focus on programmatic targeting of content, not just ads.  Although programmatic targeting of advertising is now very common for brands and advertisers, in 2015, we’ll see a critical mass of publishers begin to leverage behavioral data to programmatically targeted content to optimize experiences for users on publishers’ sites. Content will be personalized and specifically aimed at individual consumers on websites and blog pages, similar to the way ads have been targeted until now. Medium-to-large sized publishers will also invest in data management platforms and in-house programmatic resources.

For publishers this also means less focus on the home page, because that might not be where the traffic comes from. Some publishers, such as news, weather, and sports  are quite successful with apps, and can target contextually through location awareness; others, like Buzzfeed, target through declared interests. Still others are investing in content based on already-available data.

Better use of data for targeting by publishers will draw advertisers and publishers closer again, after years of being forced apart by ad tech startups who stood in the middle and performed the function of interpreting the publishers’ and the advertisers’ data to each other. Only if that closeness leads to more accurate contextual, rather than just demographic or psychographic, targeting will advertisers be able to measure the ROI of their ads and their content marketing with a specific publisher.