Navigating the Hype Around Authenticated Audiences | Sponsored Content

This article was contributed and sponsored by Publishers Clearing House.


As cookies phase out and the third-party data ecosystem becomes regulated, these forces favor a transition to first-party data as the main source of truth for targeting, measurement, and analytics.

Publishers, platforms, and ad tech providers have taken note and now have every incentive to rebrand their offerings to present an addressable-first image. The new bandwagon is here, and it sings the tune of deterministic data, first-party data, identity, log-ins, and authenticated audiences. Welcome to the next phase of hype.

And yet, consequential differences lay just beneath the surface. Not all first-party data is created equally—it varies considerably in quality, applicability, scale, and transparency. Marketers need a roadmap for this new terrain—a framework to help them sort between the hype and the substance.

What counts as an authenticated audience?

First-party data is valuable when it provides real information on the user. When we say “real information,” we mean the user’s name and a combination of their email address, location, home address or user agent string. Each counts as deterministic first-party data, but taken one-by-one, this data yields a fragmented and much less actionable view. Seek out platforms and publishers that have this information and the ability to connect it to extensive third-party data sets.

Does the platform or publisher have customers?

The most current, accurate, and actionable information is derived from a real relationship between the platform or publisher and the consumer—one where the exchange of that information facilitates the exchange of goods and services. If the platform or publisher does not provide tangible value in the context of a direct relationship, there is a good chance they are piecing together their data from less reliable sources. Real first-party data, including name, address, device, and location, comes from real customers. Full stop.

Watch out for intermediaries.

One of the central complaints levied against walled gardens is that they operate as black boxes that stand between brands and their customers. They own the relationship, not the brand, and this gives them the power and leverage to report their own metrics, which is to say: to grade their own homework. Brands of every size have a stake in greater transparency. Publishers that tout authenticated audiences should provide a mechanism that allows brands to stay in touch with their customers, to learn and optimize around signals, and to enrich their own data in the process. Publishers that stand in the way fail to deliver on the real promise of addressability.

Establish trusted connections via trusted channels.

The rise of authenticated audiences presents an opportunity for advertisers to connect more directly with their audiences, and to make those connections through trusted channels. Marketers always need a way to separate the signals from the noise, and when it comes to authenticated audiences and first-party data, these criteria are a good place to start.

—Kurt Kendall, chief analytics officer, Publishers Clearing House