Audience data is the new oil in the world of digital marketing and publishers play the role of the rig. With digital penetration growing at a rapid pace and audience data expanding every second, these are exciting times for digital marketing. Global giants Facebook and Google control a significant portion of this data and strive to keep audiences within their products as much as possible. In this situation, it is important for digital publishers to up their game and ensure that they stay competitive and at the forefront of the digital revolution.
Digital media is seeing an upward spiral with healthy internet speeds, mobile, e-commerce and digital wallet penetration. This trend hints at a pool of booming yet untapped user data. While this is good news for everyone, digital publishers in India are still primarily looking at revenues from ad space or inventory selling. Many publishers already have specialised teams to generate content specifically for social media platforms, which improves their chances of selling ads against their content on these platforms. Better content, engagement tactics, video capabilities and a user-friendly platform is at the core of getting more users. Content consumption has the potential to collate multi-dimensional behaviour data which can be a game changer for publishers if they leverage it the right way. With data getting richer day by day, the time is ripe in India for publishers to buckle up and look at shifting their focus from selling ad space to understanding and providing marketers with enhanced audience intelligence and data.
Don’t just watch it happen, do something!
The challenge with regard to data generation for publishers is to break into the duopoly of Google and Facebook that hoard primary mass loyalty. Also, media and audience fragmentation is reaching its zenith. There is relentless pressure on both traditional publishers with a digital presence and native digital portals to build strong offerings for both users and advertisers. In the current scenario, the increasing share of AMP and Instant Articles can be both a boon and a bane. While it allows some of their users to get better access to publishers’ content, it also reduces the control the publisher has over its audience.
Data is called the new gold and the future will see more players chasing it. In such a situation, publishers are seemingly letting go of their greatest asset — audience data — without too much resistance. It is critical for publishers to maintain control over their content and audiences, thereby enabling them to offer richer data sets to advertisers. Now it is more important than ever to prepare for the future, where data will dictate better marketing decisions with a more scientific approach through programmatic. Many large advertisers are investing significant portions of their marketing budget and efforts on programmatic buying. As more audience data becomes available for advertisers to undertake brand conversations, programmatic will take centre stage. To enable this, agencies and advertisers will demand audience data that is robustly defined and integrated.
Publishers can become experience zones
Publishers in the Indian market are well equipped in terms of technology, with a number of them having audience segment creation capabilities via their data management platforms. However, there still seems to be very little light in the direction of data generation, integration and selling.
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Publishers in India should engage in better conversations on these points to eventually become an equal player in the market. They can start by putting in place strategies to understand their audiences better and use that data to acquire more users on their platform through content and experience. They should then be able to segment richer data sets into valuable analytics for buyers, thereby allowing themselves varied monetisation opportunities.
With the burgeoning of mobile users and video content online, the market looks bright and shining for publishers to emerge as experience zones for their users and as audience hubs for marketers. Marketers are ready and keen to embark on this journey with a number stating that data is central to their activities.
In a recent survey conducted by the Global Alliance of Data-Driven Marketing Associations, 35.6% respondents were looking for increased availability and granularity of audience data to improve their data-led marketing efforts, a desire that can primarily be addressed by audience hubs. Indian publishers need to step up and market their audiences effectively and ensure that data delinked from media is ready to be used by marketers. The future is one that is data-driven and digital publishers need to be at the forefront of this.
– John Thankamony
The author is head, programmatic advertising, Mindshare.