How Penske Media uses a CDP to help advertisers reach digital users

Unifying first-party data in the CDP helps authenticate users and quickly improve their experiences.

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Less than two years ago, Penske Media Corporation (PMC) began implementing a customer data profile (CDP) from Treasure Data to unify data across big-name titles like Billboard, Rolling Stone and Variety. PMG has 130m unique monthly visitors across all their digital properties.

With the first-party data unified in the CDP, users authenticated on one digital property could then be identified on another one. This helps PMC deliver more relevant experiences to visitors, creating more opportunities for advertisers.

3 categories of first-party data

Prior to the CDP implementation, 95% of visitors to PMC’s digital sites were unauthenticated and anonymous to the publisher. Having a centralized first-party data tool allowed the publisher to place users in a profile and build continuity when they came back to the site or visited another PMC touchpoint.

Not only could users be authenticated, but more first-party data could also be built around each user in their unified profile. The first-party data in the CDP comes under three main categories.

Declared data. This is data that individuals share with the publisher when signing up for newsletters, events or taking a survey. It is also known as zero-party data.

Behavioral data. This is generated by the actions users take when interacting with PMC’s digital properties. It includes where they click, the time spent on a page, the length of their sessions and other metrics.

“We can collect these types of metrics in real time to help us understand what type of content or what type of user engages most with our content,” said Brett Goverman, PMC’s associate vice president, data strategy, at The MarTech Conference. “That’s really what helps us get to lower-funnel types of audiences.”

Contextual data. This is based on what kinds of content users engage with across PMC sites. Based on these interests, along with the actions users take, the publisher can deliver relevant ads and other promotions meaningful to users.

Dig deeper: How to extract value from zero-party data

Activating customer data to improve experiences and deliver relevant ads

The publisher uses contextual data to build an improved experience for customers. If a visitor is interested in a particular category like entertainment, they likely want to be directed toward content in that category, or a related one.

Contextual targeting also opens the door for sponsored experiences and/or ads. For instance, a user who visits the site for the first time might get an offer to sign up for a newsletter. A returning visitor, or someone who’s already signed up for that newsletter, might be shown a poll or another newsletter of likely interest. Or, they could be invited to sign up for an event. The aim is to avoid repetition, and to show users the options that make sense based on their behavior and context.

Dig deeper: How companies are leveraging clean rooms and first-party data

When enough of this data is collected from individuals, then advertisers can reach them as part of a targeted audience or segment.

“This is really where first party data flourishes and becomes this exceptionally unique and proprietary solution that you can’t get anywhere else,” said Brett. “Because we’re able to take all of those data signals that we collect across declared contextual and behavioral data, package it up and make sure not only that users that are reading or streaming content are seeing your message, but users that have interacted with content in the past continue to see [the advertiser’s] messaging [in future visits].”

He added, “We’re able to make sure that a premium brand is able to continue that conversation outside of just that single page. And this really helps us connect brands with the right users at the right time.”


About the author

Chris Wood
Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country's first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on "innovation theater" at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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