Publishers Can Engage Advertisers with Data Consulting

Advertisers’ unquenchable thirst for bigger and better data is leading some media companies to devise new data-driven ad products.

One-third of the 300 US senior decision-makers at digital media and marketing companies surveyed by Lotame in November 2018 reported that they’re selling their audience data. While this practice can help publishers make more money, it could also be emblematic of why consumers don’t feel in-control of their personal data.

Rather than sell its audience information to data exchanges, women’s lifestyle publisher PopSugar engages its data-driven advertisers through consulting partnerships. Chris George, executive vice president of product marketing and sales strategy at PopSugar, spoke with eMarketer about how the publisher utilizes its audience data.

What kinds of data projects do you work on with advertisers?

In some cases, we’re setting up some data consultancy type of relationships where we’re not just giving [advertisers] access to the data, but we’re also staffing it and helping them understand what the data means. That's been very well received by advertisers because they live in a world of data overload, and they need somebody to synthesize it for them.

How do the data consultancy projects work?

It’s much like an agency model where we’ll actually staff an account with dedicated people who will live in the data and surface trends and insights. So it’s really somebody who gives insights and recommendations for clients to optimize their marketing. It’s something we provide to our bigger upfront partners who make a longer-term commitment. We package it into those types of agreements.

Does PopSugar sell its data to third-party data exchanges?

We’ve been approached by data stores that try to have us sell our data to third-party providers. We have not gone down that path.

Why not?

Our data is unique and proprietary, and we would like to reserve it for our biggest advertising partners.

You entered a partnership with the vendor Memo that’s intended to create an advertiser marketplace for publishers’ audience metrics. What led to that arrangement?

We thought that it made sense to be transparent and allow PR professionals access to that type of data. It will take some time for the PR industry to adopt this sort of reporting.

We write about a lot of brands. And we have great relationships in the PR community. So over time, this could be an interesting business.

Will this create a significant line of revenue for your company?

We're not quite sure what the revenue opportunity will be yet, because this is such a new offering.

Why go through a third-party like Memo to create this offering? Why not just sell the metrics yourselves?

If we wanted to go out and sell that directly, we would need to hire salespeople and people to manage that customer service. And so Memo is filling a need where if they can tackle this problem with a bunch of publishers signed on, then the PR industry will listen and take note of it.