By Xie Yihui

Among the many challenges the media face, the speakers at WAN-IFRA’s recent Digital Media Asia session focused specifically on monetisation, and in particular, transparency of data when advertisers engage with news publishers.

“I think there were huge challenges brought in to our ecosystem, especially for publishers, not being able to facilitate actually direct relationships with the demand,” said Marco Dohmen, Vice President of Sales of Germany’s 1PlusX. 

Agreeing, Ian Hocking, Vice President of Digital, South China Morning Post (SCMP), said while programmatic ad buying, or the use of software to buy digital advertising, has created much efficiency, publishers have “lost the value and service that publishers can bring to buyers, as well as an understanding of the audience and the data in order to drive better results.” 

He emphasised an important balance that publishers need to make is between efficiency and the bringing the service-level value of uncovering attributes of users available only on the publishers’ unique platform. 

Understanding users first-hand

It was with that mindset that SCMP moved to 100 percent first-party data two years ago, and the strategy has allowed them to understand the users first-hand, rather than through someone else’s eyes.

This strategy has been revolutionary, Hocking said.

It has enabled much data transparency for potential business partners and allowed SCMP to build products and services both internally- and externally-facing.

Another advantage with first-party data is that it is long-lasting, and is not blocked by other platforms. 

Hocking also shared the strategy to build a relationship with agencies.

The key, he said, was to “lay out what makes SCMP a unique, interesting publisher, and what we can provide that [agencies] can’t get through local market activation.”

After establishing the publisher’s unique value proposition, Hocking said he would talk about the trusted relationship SCMP has with the users which enable them to give SCMP the consent to create data profiles.

Then, he would try to connect the value that brands see with the platform and that the users see with the brands, and “through either displaying messaging and more integrated solutions, amplify that in the trusted environment [the publishers’ platform].”

SCMP chose1PlusX as the marketing partner in setting up its first-data strategy because of good connectivity internally with its data tool and externally to its activation platforms, Hocking said. Moreover, it has a high level of data transparency, which is the key to regaining control of identity. 

He gave an example of a successful advertising campaign with a high-end watch manufacturer.

“We help through declared data to find those individuals who can afford it and are buying those kinds of products,” Hocking said.

By establishing a good relationship with the potential watch buyers, “mediated in a trusted environment, the manufacturer was then able to reach out and maintain ownership over a long period of time,” he said. 

Many data points

From the macro perspective of the advertising ecosystem, Dohmen said the main asset for every publishing group is the content, which contains many data points.

The first-party data from these data points is an important factor for publishers to level the playing field with the big tech.

Publishers won’t have as many resources as the big tech players, but on the other hand, there is high quality data coming from the users who are joining their properties, he said.

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