It’s no secret – understanding readers’ consent preferences and delivering personalized content and ads are key to better experiences. However, evolving privacy regulations and deprecating third-party cookies are making it increasingly difficult for publishers to keep up. In fact, McKinsey estimates the publishing industry will need to replace $10 billion in ad revenue as a result of third-party cookie deprecation. With this kind of material impact on their revenue and finances, publishers can’t afford to wait to transform their data strategies.
Collecting and using first-party data to build strong, consent-based customer relationships provides a way for publishers to effectively engage readers while boosting revenue streams at the same time. Here are four ways how.
Increase Reader Relevance to Drive Engagement
For some time, publishers have attempted to let consumers personalize their ad experiences, often by providing a way to share their preferences so that future ads could be better targeted. However, providing this feedback typically makes little difference, with users are still served with the same ads over and over.
In fact, a 2022 advertising study found that 56% of US consumers received online ads that were only somewhat relevant to their needs and interests.
But, it’s not just ads, content matters too.
Imagine you’re a cat lover who’s served ads for dog food, or a Boston Celtics fan who’s given content recommendations for the LA Lakers. Using black-box algorithms that don’t offer a way for readers to provide feedback could be the quickest route to losing them.
To keep readers engaged, publishers must start experimenting with first-party data collection features on their websites, mobile apps, and more that offer a mutual value exchange. For example, one simple way to provide value in exchange for data is by encouraging readers to create a free account in order to select what topics interest them. This information can then be used to deliver more personalized content and experiences. By collecting data privacy preferences at the same time, publishers can suppress onsite ads if an individual hasn’t consented to it – all while building trust in the process.
Turn Likely-To-Subscribe Visitors Into Paying Subscribers
Leveraging interest data, web behavioral data, and other first-party data collection tactics like the free account example above, publishers can not only improve personalization but also deliver relevant messages and offers that convert free registered readers into paying subscribers. For instance, publishers can use what they know about each individual to push metered or hard-locked articles for ‘further reading,’ serve personalized subscription pages and push notification offers, and retarget subscription abandoners.
Moreover, having access to unified, actionable first-party data can also help publishers identify and suppress subscription messaging to individuals who are already subscribers and use it as an opportunity to maximize upsell and cross-sell opportunities instead. For instance, publishers can offer product bundles, cross-promote relevant newsletters that match their content preferences, and test other tactics for increasing subscription value and generating more revenue.
Package and Sell Interest-Based Segments to Ad Partners
When collected with consent, first-party data also opens up opportunities for publishers to develop scalable audience monetization strategies. For example, publishers can easily discern which individuals have opted in (or out) of marketing communications and package and sell that data to ad partners.
Moreover, by leveraging consented first-party data for look-alike modeling, publishers can effectively increase the size of their audience pool – a tactic that can be incredibly beneficial to publishers who have a small but highly engaged niche audience. By using AI to score both known and anonymous individuals as they browse content, publishers can build robust, large-scale segments based on specific attributes that advertisers can then target.
Amplify Affiliate Revenue
According to an eMarketer survey, 31% of publishers cite affiliate marketing as one of their top three revenue sources. However, many of these programs rely on third-party cookies. With first-party data, publishers can target readers with more relevant ads and product recommendations based on the content they are most interested in – and earn revenue when those readers purchase from an affiliate partner’s site.
Moreover, publishers can take their affiliate programs to the next level by applying recency, frequency, and monetary value (RFM) models to their first-party data.
Using this sophisticated modeling approach, publishers can reduce ad waste and increase paid advertising return on investment by only targeting those individuals who make high-value purchases and those who purchase frequently.
The Future Is First-Party
With the death of third-party cookies looming near, publishers need to act now if they want to protect and grow their subscription and advertising revenue.
By powering customer engagement, audience monetization, and affiliate strategies with first-party data, publishers can reduce the risk of leaving money on the table and forge a more solid and lasting growth trajectory.