Big Data Is The Wrong Data For Publishers

by Tamir Lipton, VP of Business Development
August 31st, 2015

For all the hoopla around “Big Data,” and the promise of increased revenue and margin for publishers (and better results for advertisers), publishers continue to struggle to aggregate and use their consumer data to drive better ad performance.

Aside from Facebook, Google, and Amazon, which publishers out there are truly maximizing the use of their data? How many have actually used it to transform their business? For years, most publishers have relied on third parties to sell their unsold inventory which tends to hover around 40% of their ad business - leaving nearly half of their consumer data inaccessible and unusable. As one senior publishing executive said to me recently, “No one has really proven they can make big data work at scale yet. Who knows if it will ever happen.”

Even for those publishers who can acquire and organize their data into a manageable system – no small feat – it still requires packaging. Having data is key, but slicing and dicing it in a way that’s meaningful and incites action is how it becomes truly impactful. Drawing value from data can be very tough when there are thousands of data points to choose from. It becomes exponentially more challenging when marrying user data with available inventory to present a compelling advertiser media pitch. Advertisers are only interested in performance that scales and, unless you’re Facebook, Google, or Amazon, media plans that include cookies simply don’t scale.

Despite their predicament, publishers understand that their data is what differentiates them from their competitors and most believe it has the capability to transform their business. It’s why most publishers own a Data Management Platform (DMP) - despite the fact that it gets about as much use as a landline these days.

So if publishers understand the gold mine they’re sitting on, what’s keeping them from getting rich?

Cookies don’t scale unless they’re part of an audience extension program. However, when publishers opt in to audience extension, they open themselves up to inferior quality of supply. In addition, many advertisers want to append third party data to the publisher’s data, limiting the publisher’s scale even more.

More and more business is being done across platforms. As consumers up their use of multiple screens, matching these data sets and cookie pools is often challenging – if not impossible, especially when it comes to mobile.

User registration or content consumption data is hard to link to ad performance. Assuming that these specific data sets will allow campaigns to perform best is a stretch. Most of the time the data that improves performance isn’t cookie data, it’s page-level, intent data.

While there are obstacles, it makes sense for publishers to try and overcome them. They can do this by limiting their investment in technology that only provides insight on past events. Instead of thinking about what a consumer was interested in, publishers need to find a way to identify and target a consumer’s real-time interests or intent.

The good news is that this intent data exists everywhere - publishers have it in droves. Better news? It’s free. Even better news? It scales. It increases performance (even on mobile) and mitigates the complexities of managing data. By leveraging this smaller, more targeted, more powerful data set, publishers can achieve performance for their advertisers and relevance for their consumers.

Until publishers learn to target and leverage intent data, they will continue to chip away at their massive data projects without being able to predict whether or not their efforts will return the increased revenue and margin they’re hoping for. It’s a big, blind bet on Big Data – and it’s the wrong data.

To learn more about why intent targeting and intent data is so critical to publisher revenue, advertiser performance, and consumer relevance, click here.


Tamir Lipton is VP of Business Development at Yieldbot. Tamir works collaboratively with sales, client services, and account management to nurture relationships with top-tier Publishers, Agencies, and Advertisers who believe that the best ad technology leads to the best ad performance.

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