The Economist prizes its high-quality environment, but that doesn’t mean it’s against audience targeting.
The publisher is tapping into its subscriptions data to sell acutely-targeted digital ad campaigns not only on its own platforms but also across an audience-extension network. Now, the publisher’s conversations with advertisers are pivoting toward how to use its subscriber and registration data to inform a brand’s campaign-targeting objectives whether across The Economist’s properties or not.
In some cases, that involves matching Economist data with a marketer’s data to identify potential prospects, after which the publisher will create custom prospect pools for that client. Ads can the run across Facebook and other platforms, as well as other news outlets, according to Stephane Pere, chief data officer at The Economist Group.
“We already trade our audiences on other platforms via our extended network, which was a simple pivot. This is the next iteration, where we can help brands manage their own retargeting. We can share audiences with each other and create bespoke targeting,” said Pere. A couple of initial tests have been run with existing clients, though Pere said it was too early to reveal specifics. The team is also yet to figure out a commercial blueprint for the offering, but the aim is to form more of these data-driven partnerships with clients, and provide extensive campaign optimizing and reporting, he added.
The publisher already offers brands off-site targeting for branded content campaigns created by The Economist’s in-house team. But this would be for all a brand’s activity, regardless of which entity created the content.
The Economist has made big strides in its internal data management, having further developed its cloud-based insights platform, that provides a single view of a reader, in the last six months. The platform pulls in transactional data from subscriptions, engagement and marketing channel data taken from its email communications and push notifications, and applies data science techniques to infer customer attributes based on their behaviors. The plan is to overlap that platform, with its main DMP to create smarter audience sets.
That capability, plus the lessons it has learned from its own digital subscriptions sales drives, will be packaged for clients. The publisher continuously tests different ways to drive new, and retain existing subscribers. That’s given it a wealth of data on which stages in the reader’s journey, they are likely to stay engage, and that increases retention. These are lessons it now wants to apply to its advertising business, according to Pere. “We can map target audiences at each touch point of the conversion funnel. Therefore the goal is to not just move prospects from A to B to C during a campaign, but to keep pushing them from B to C and from C to D throughout the year. We can do that for brands,” added Pere.
British national newspaper Trinity Mirror, has been exploring a similar model, opening up its first-party data to clients like Nestlé, whose agency ZenithOptimedia is working on a custom DMP comprising solely first-party audience segments from select publishers like Trinity Mirror.
“Data segments are a huge part of our planning strategies, particularly deterministic data as it adds a layer of verification in a very complex market. Knowing a user is subscribed to The Economist is of huge benefit for those of us who work on clients that are trying to target users who have a strong business interest such as Microsoft, Automotive Fleet and banking clients,” said Chinwe Mlemchukwu, digital account manager at Carat’s media buying arm Amplifi. “The Economist is a trusted premium publisher with a strong ABC1 audience and the ease of having the ability to buy via our trading desk makes for an enticing proposition. I would expect that this would have a lot of interest from many media buyers across the agency,” she added.