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Guardian moves to separate data and inventory, with monetisation model to follow

Guardian

The Guardian has made its first steps to decouple its audience data from its inventory, putting greater control in the hands of its advertisers in an attempt to retain loyal spend.

Recognising that there is a huge amount of value in its first party data, the publisher wants to turn those insights into a revenue stream outright.

Publishers are catching on that their highly engaged audiences, and consequent depth of first party data, opens up opportunities to monetise beyond their own inventory. This data pertains to content that its users read, how they navigate through a site, a view of their intent through incoming search terms and their profile characteristics; location as well as the types of technology that they use.

To the Guardian, this data in aggregation amounts to 200 billion data events that it captures every month, culminating in an intricate understanding of its user base. The publisher uses those insights to make decisions on how and where to promote its content to its audiences both on the Guardian and beyond. Now, the Guardian is taking the same insight and audience data to drive value to its advertisers.

It has, for the first time, broken apart the inventory that it previously sold packaged with that data, and made those inputs available as segments to advertisers and their agencies. This is segmented into two data options; standard off-the-shelf pre-defined audience, and advanced custom audiences. Both are available to agency trading desks via their demand-side platform (DSP); as such they can start to use the audience segmentation to inform their targeting of users across different platforms on behalf of the advertiser.

“Through our testing - our data has allowed programmatic buyers to realise a better performance at greater scale and through delivering customers that are higher value. That adds a level of qualitative interest as well,” said Daniel Spears, programmatic director at Guardian News & Media.

Seven advertisers have already tested the proposition, including telecoms and retail, with Eurostar and iProspect selected as the launch partners. Eurostar ran multi-market campaigns using a variety of data sources to identify intent for travel. The Guardian claims the new data proposition has driven a 30 per cent increase in ROI and campaign effectiveness through the same level of spend on third party data.

The publisher uses Krux, which has recently been bought by Salesforce, as its DMP for the link between its own data and the customer’s technology, with advertisers using AppNexus, DBM and Mediamath.

It is taking a “controlled approach” to the data offering by restricting it to trusted agency partners in order to limit the risk of leakage. All data sets are fully privacy compliant and in line with the data protection act as aggregated, anonymised audiences, within which there is no personally-identifiable user information.

The Guardian anticipates selling it on a CPM basis “although the details are a work in progress” Spears said.

Spears believes the introduction of data into the programmatic marketplace works to prove the value of a technology that has “failed to establish best practice use and the measures necessary to get as much value from that tech as possible”. Overcoming this obstacle is particularly valuable at a time when advertisers are increasingly questioning digital spend following Dentsu and Facebook’s separate admissions of irregularities in how they quantify what they say they offer, and what they actually do deliver.

“This is all about delivering the right message to the right user at the right time; the technology creates the overarching capability but it is the data that allows an advertiser to recognise a prospect when it is most valuable,” Spears said.

“The issue that exists with data is it is expensive, in the UK at least it lacks scale and you don’t know where it comes from or whether the name that it is given is reflective of what it is. In the context of being of limited size, questionable prominence and of varying quality. What we have proven through the work we have done with Guardian Response+ is our quality publisher data is extremely valuable for programmatic buying.”

The Guardian joins the likes of Mail Brands UK’s similar move to build out its audience extension capabilities to allow advertisers to take its consumers’ online activity and use that data to understand and reach relevant audiences elsewhere online.

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Jessica Goodfellow

The Drum's media reporter covering everything from publishing, TV, social media, radio and technology.

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