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Digital publishers need to provide advertisers more than just third-party data, say experts

While many publishers are offering solutions in the creative space, the third-party data provided to advertisers needs to be much more detailed and segmented to truly understand and utilise the space

Advertising monies are increasingly shifting towards digital, and more so in the pandemic situation. But are digital publishers making the most of this shift? According to experts, in order to further attract advertisers, it is important for publishers to provide accurate and detailed data and not just rely on third-party insights.

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Sundeep Nagpal

Sundeep Nagpal, Founder and Director, Stratagem Media, says the issue is that the measurability of these platforms is not easy because the control doesn't lie with the advertiser, it is with the publisher. “The metrics provided are not detailed. Most of these guys sell on the basis of cost per million impressions. Now, that's not a very strong metric. In other words, it doesn't allow you to measure things like leads,” he said.

“Whatever the number of hits, number of views and clicks they can talk about, if at all, they do talk about all that. Then that can also be manipulated. Nothing is beyond manipulation on digital,” he added. 

It is known that social media platforms have commanded over internet advertising in India. Nagpal said the publishers need to get technologically advanced to provide those solutions. “I don't think that the publishers are really interested in finding solutions or giving data. They might give creative solutions but are not really interested in giving data. So, that’s a mindset issue. Whatever the Googles and the Facebooks provide, they are using technology, AI, algorithms, etc. I don’t think any publisher in India is doing that because anyway, they have a limited appeal,” Nagpal explained.

Nagpal said even if publishers come up with their own solution platforms, it is not necessary they will benefit from them. “TOI can only suggest plans for its own platforms and not for HT. However, an advertiser will want a much larger set of options to work with. This acts like a big limitation.”

Ritesh Singh

According to Ritesh Singh, Co-founder and Managing Director, #ARM Worldwide, holding each and every publisher will be very difficult as there are lakhs of them. He said it is the third-party data that needs to be audited.

“The point is that there is nobody who is working on this from a digital industry point of view. IAMAI as a body is throwing more events and research and selling it. They're not doing anything else to make the industry a better place. Till the time somebody does not intervene and work on these things, these ambiguities will not get over and will continue to remain the way they are.”

Singh said tools such as ComScore are available for everybody in the world as far as numbers are concerned whereas subscription data is internal. He said advertisers have their own benchmark to determine what works for them.

We look at ComScore or SimilarWeb and have been planning for millions of spend using them. If I get my desired result, which is measured through Google Analytics, or Omniture, or whatever tracking tool brands are using, we can then set our own benchmarks and therefore plan repeat business with respect publishers. I don't think the discussion about wrong data should come into play because everybody's here in business to stay at the end of the day and not be tagged as a company with unfair practises. Especially during Corona Times, people want better ROI, now everybody is keenly looking at the funnel between marketing and business metrics.

Arjun Satya

Speaking about what publishers can do to navigate the situation, Arjun Satya, Co-Founder, M360, said publishers will have to identify and activate their moats over traditional walled gardens, rather than going for what everyone else is doing. A few of the avenues that publishers need to focus on are first-party and PII data, activate new media and use MarTech solutions.

“The best-case scenario is to try out multiple options to see what works best for you, then do those limited options effectively.”

“The importance of first-party and personally identifiable information (PII) data is talked about a lot and now become a hackneyed subject. While a publisher first-party data is no match for robust audience targeting and retargeting capabilities on walled gardens, first-party data on demographics and spending behaviours of users can definitely offer something different to advertisers to target,” he said.

He said unlike social media, publishers have the liberty to choose their forms of media for publishing their content and furthermore the format of advertising that can be pushed through regular digital publishers.

“Podcast mentions, product reviews and comparison, rich media innovations, and even sponsored posts through digital publishers are a few ways through which digital publishers are creating an alternative set of offerings that social media with standard formats cannot,” he said.

“Digital publishers usually have much deeper connections with their audience through newsletters, SMSs, and WhatsApp/telegram/slack groups. Publishers should natively push branding ads through Martech channels for developing a clear edge over other platforms,” Satya said.

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