How Publishers Can Benefit From Demographic Audience Guarantees

Opinion: They need to give advertisers peace of mind

An audience guarantee isn’t just good business, it’s a problem-solver Aquir/iStock

From Facebook’s algorithm overhaul to concerns over brand safety and transparency, growing ad revenue is harder than ever for publishers. As a result, many are considering new inventory opportunities through platforms like Snapchat, YouTube and Twitter.

But the answer might be simpler than expanding media available, which requires significant resources and investment. Instead, publishers can benefit by improving how they monetize their existing inventory.

One proposed strategy for doing so is simple, but controversial to some. I believe publishers can significantly improve revenue opportunities by guaranteeing demographic audiences to advertisers. As the digital media climate is increasingly challenged, more publishers need to embrace this bold move instead of shying away from it. In doing so, they can boost monetization, and at a premium. Let’s take a closer look at how.

What type of guarantee?

Advertisers are concerned about transparency at all points of their campaigns. According to Metamarkets, 75 percent of advertisers worry about transparency in their media buys. Another study by the State of Programmatic Advertising backs up that data, revealing that 79 percent of those who buy ads are concerned.

In the era of transparency, an audience guarantee—which provides assurances that certain benchmarks in terms of demographic audience performance will be met, or they will be reimbursed—isn’t just good business, it’s a problem-solver. Offering an audience guarantee can be a key differentiator in a landscape plagued by opacity.

For publishers, the best way to guarantee data is by measuring it against demographic benchmarks. These are audience guarantees based on high-quality, third-party data profiles, measured against external standards. In addition, this allows publishers to guarantee on-target delivery for advertisers—whether a buy is direct or programmatically made—which results in greater return on investment, as well.

Furthermore, when securing higher budgets from consumer packaged goods, entertainment or other advertisers, having a guarantee in place that ensures on-target delivery makes you a much more attractive partner.

Demographic benchmarking vs. deterministic data

Beyond demographic benchmarking, deterministic data is also viewed as a popular alternative for executing audience guarantees. Over the past few years, deterministic data has become more attractive than demographic benchmarking primarily because it can be collected for free directly from a publisher’s site and, because it is first-party data, it is highly accurate. Therefore, many publishers have chosen to go the deterministic route rather than investing in third-party data.

This seems to make perfect sense except for one large caveat: Most publishers struggle to collect the volume of hyper-accurate first-party data that they need to provide a valid audience guarantee.

For example, a news publisher, content site or sports publisher may only be receiving a fraction of deterministic login data because users frequently view content on these sites without registering or logging in. This limited amount of data makes it nearly impossible to benchmark and meet the kinds of on-target delivery metrics that advertisers demand when it comes to premium inventory.

By bringing in demographic third-party data that can be pre-scored, publishers are able to meet these demands.

Audience guarantees are no longer an optional “add-on” for publishers today. If publishers want the best bang for their buck, they need to give advertisers peace of mind with clearly understood guarantees of data-backed benchmarks that will be met.

Ryan Rolf is vice president of data solutions at data-management platform Lotame.