Publishers Have More First-Party Data Than They Think. Here’s How to Use It
With Facebook cutting off access to third-party data, Apple’s introduction of Intelligent Tracking Prevention, and GDPR looming, access to data is top of mind for publishers and advertisers alike.
Publishers who have the first-party data to offer advertisers will be at an advantage. Fortunately, publishers might already have more first-party data available than they think; it’s just a matter of getting to it. With a bit of work, publishers can unlock more of the first-party data they already own, then put it to use in their advertising and editorial strategies.
Unlocking More First-Party Data with Google Analytics
Publishers have increasingly turned to customer data platforms (CDPs) for deriving actionable takeaways from their data. For publishers with the resources to implement them, CDPs are a powerful way to unify and analyze customer data at the individual level. But getting a handle on your data doesn’t have to involve overhauling your technology stack. The data in your Google Analytics account is an invaluable source of first-party data that doesn’t require installing new technology.
A properly-configured Analytics account can provide a wealth of audience information, content insights, and opportunities for monetization. The problem is: the potential in this data goldmine largely remains untapped. Many publishers don’t look at their Google Analytics data beyond audience-level pageviews and demographics. It’s interesting, but it’s not particularly actionable.
The key to unlocking more first-party data lies with creating custom dimensions in your analytics, giving you deeper insight into your audience. Publishers can use these dimensions to segment data based on -- among other things -- content categories, content types, and level of audience engagement. Google’s User-ID feature also allows publishers to link this engagement data to individual users in your other data systems. By customizing your Google Analytics account to enrich your data, you can drive more value with the first-party data you already own.
Using First-party Data to Drive More Ad Revenue
When Facebook commands 18% of global ad spend, bringing your own first-party data to the table can help you compete more effectively for ad dollars. Advertisers seeking specific audiences will see more value with quality first-party data.
By creating a custom dimension that separates your pageviews into content categories, you can segment your analytics by the type of content viewed. Demographic data by content type can provide far more actionable insight than a ranking of URLs with the most pageviews, allowing you to squeeze more revenue from your data.
Knowing how many, say, men aged 25-34 who visit your site is one thing; knowing how many of them specifically consume automotive content, is a powerful tool to command ad revenue from advertisers, who can then target an audience they know will be receptive. This knowledge of specific audience segments can go straight into your media kit, aiding your direct ad sales efforts.
You can also use this data to enrich your ad targeting. By integrating Google Analytics with DoubleClick for Publishers, you can join your first-party data with DFP’s remarketing capabilities and improve the targeting of your direct-sold ad inventory. For instance, deep engagement with content in a particular category likely indicates reader interest in that topic. Upon exporting Analytics data to DFP, you can target those readers with relevant direct sold ads.
Publishers can even use dimensions to mitigate the effects of ad blockers. By creating a dimension that logs whether an ad blocker is present, publishers can determine the effects of ad blockers on their revenue and test different means of monetizing visitors who use blockers.
Optimizing Editorial with Better Data
Improved first-party data can help you on the editorial side as well.
Your custom category dimensions can help you gauge the performance of particular types of content. When creating quality content is costly, knowing what content categories drive engagement will help you determine where to allot resources -- what categories you prioritize, what topics you cover with new content, or even what new products you create to deliver your content.
You can even go beyond category dimensions to further assess your content. For instance:
- Adding an Article Publish Date dimension can tell you the age of the content consumed, informing whether you focus on creating fresh content or producing high quality evergreen content.
- Creating a dimension that shows whether a visitor viewed a video and for how long can help determine the ROI of video production, dictating whether you invest more in video or pull back.
- An author dimension can even tell you how much traffic is attributed to individual writers, or the demographics of the audiences they engage.
Additional Monetization Opportunities From First-Party Data
Increased scrutiny towards data practices, and third party data in particular, have reaffirmed the importance of first-party data, and the most successful publishers will be the ones that leverage it most effectively. That means tailoring your use of Google Analytics to match your objectives.
For instance, publishers that offer premium subscriptions could identify the segments that engage with the most content and tailor their subscription marketing efforts accordingly. First-party data can also help publishers personalize content recommendations, which may then lead to deeper engagement.
Ultimately, this is all your own first-party data you’re sitting on, and letting it sit unused is a missed opportunity. By building out custom dimensions and using Analytics to its full potential, you can monetize your valuable first-party data and achieve your revenue potential too.