TechBytes with Jason White, SVP, Head of Publishers at LiveRamp

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TechBytes with Jason White, SVP, Head of Publishers at LiveRamp

Please tell us about your journey into MarTech/AdTech. Tell us more about your role and team you handle at LiveRamp.

My career has cut across the vast ecosystem of Adtech – from Advertising to AdTech platforms, publishers and consumer products. Most recently, I held leadership roles with ViacomCBS, OpenX, and Fox Audience Network. While this has contributed a diversity of experience, each of my roles has been unified by a common denominator: a passion to use advertising and data to democratize information and keep the internet free.

I’m fortunate to continue that journey in my latest post as LiveRamp’s Senior Vice President and Head of Publishers, where I’ll be focused on helping publishers grow revenue streams, optimize yield, and demonstrate marketing value. A key part of this is continuing to accelerate publisher adoption of our global Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS), which enables cookieless, people-based advertising on authenticated inventory across the web, mobile, TV, and beyond.

Even just a few weeks in, the job has already been incredibly rewarding as it supports my career-long commitment to publisher-supported advertising. I look forward to empowering publishers to take a position of strength in the marketplace, even amidst major industry challenges like the degradation of third-party cookies and general economic uncertainty.

The publisher industry has been facing prevailing headwinds of late – from economic uncertainty to the phase-out of third-party cookies. What three things do you recommend to publishers to help future-proof their business?

Despite the current state of the industry I really believe that publishers will be able to “win” if they implement solutions and strategies that prioritize trust and demonstrate a clear value exchange with individuals. There are three primary ways to do this:

– Develop an authentication strategy. If they haven’t already, publishers are realizing that first-party authentication is critical to increasing the value of ad inventory without the need for third-party cookies. An authentication strategy allows publishers to recognize known users (and engage with them in the right way with the right message) and unlock new revenue streams both on their own sites, and across the open internet.

– Experiment with engagement models. Once a publisher has enabled first-party data authentications, they can explore the different types of engagement models that work best for their business and their audience. This kind of “test and learn” strategy ensures the publisher is providing valuable content, which in turn, increases authentication rates and the efficacy of their ad inventory.

– Embrace the individual. It’s important for publishers to honor consumer preferences and prioritize trust. Without a trusted relationship between the publisher and individual, readers may be reluctant to engage in value exchange, whereby they provide their permissioned data, in return for access to meaningful content or experiences.

One way to do this is by leveraging an enterprise-level preference and consent management platform. Such platforms ensure individuals are provided with the utmost transparency, choice, and control. A tangential benefit for publishers is that compliance with GDPR, CCPA, and future legislation is simplified.

Underlying each of these recommendations, I encourage publishers to flex their creative muscles. Just because things like paywalls or subscriber newsletters may have worked for them in the past, there are new and inventive ways to provide tangible benefits to their end-user today: from affiliate links to curated lists to calendar invites packed with relevant content.

How can publishers generate and retain a steady audience base in this scenario?

Publishers should focus on ways to build on consumer experiences with their site and deliver on the promised value exchange that comes with it. For example, first, a user may opt-in to receive email newsletters, which may necessitate an email strategy, but from there, publishers can get creative with how they choose to communicate through that medium.

But, instead of just defaulting to a monthly email blast, find ways to evolve this relationship. For example, sharing upcoming events that align with an individual’s interest. What first started as an exchange of information via email can blossom into something much more dynamic, and relevant.

Why is an authentication strategy so important for publishers when it comes to growing revenue? How can publishers diversify their revenue streams in the current climate?

In the absence of third-party cookies, data tied to authentications will be the key to unlocking improved ad inventories. The ability for publishers to recognize known users on their sites gives way to delivering relevant, meaningful information and experiences that are tailored to an individual – in a privacy-first way – and the high-value yields that come with them. This level of user awareness can also unlock new revenue streams.

Further, with authentications, direct, PMP deals are enhanced and can include both custom audiences from brands and identity rich ad inventory from the open web. On a broader scale, the open internet thrives when privacy-first, people-based identifiers are implemented across the programmatic supply chain. Moreover, such identifiers unlock previously inaccessible inventory like Safari, Firefox, and before long, Chrome.

In January, Google announced it would be phasing out the use of third-party cookies across its browser in the next two years. Since then, a number of companies have come out with alternative solutions that can survive in a cookieless environment. For publishers looking to cut through the clutter and select the best solution for their business, what do you recommend?

When it comes to evaluating the right solution, I recommend publishers assess or ask four questions:

  • Does it enable global frequency capping?
  • Are cross-platform campaigns possible?
  • Is it possible to control inefficiencies, like buying the same audiences over and over again (i.e., deduplication)?
  • Does the solution support campaigns that can be customized for both behavioral and audience segments?

If a publisher answers “yes” confidently to each of these questions, it’s likely the solution will translate to increased sales or perhaps another desirable KPI. Unfortunately, many publisher solutions available today only solve for #4, which means they are only effective with just one browser API. This also means there is no option for frequency capping or cross-browser engagement, let alone platform, leaving Connected TV, app inventory, and other channels off the table.

The biggest miss here, however, is measurement. Post-campaign, publishers will find themselves unable to prove or measure the true performance of their campaign. In other words, the ROI is soft or nonexistent. And given our current economic climate, where every dollar spent is scrutinized, there’s no room for solutions that lack addressability or measurability.

One last “watch-out” for publishers. If a solutions provider touts its own ID, be sure they can verify how or where it’s sourced from. There are a number of identifiers that may seem legitimate on the surface, but that are, in fact, fatally flawed. Two examples of this are hashed emails or fingerprinting, each of which should be avoided as they raise serious concerns around consumer privacy and security.

For publishers interested in a well-rounded solution that satisfies each of the criteria above, I encourage them to look at something like LiveRamp’s Authenticated Traffic Solution. It’s interoperable, neutral, and helps deliver verified audiences that are authenticated and fully addressable, while still empowering consumer transparency, control, and choice.

What is your take on industry chatter that suggests browser IDs or single sign-ons may become more common as the industry moves towards authentications, and away from cookies?

The issue with alternatives like browser IDs or single-sign-ons is that they ultimately disintermediate publishers from their end-user. And at the end of the day, publishers should be able to decide for themselves how to leverage their first-party data. There shouldn’t be a third-party that manages individuals’ data on the publisher’s behalf.

Instead, publishers should look to strengthen their trusted relationships with consumers directly. Not to mention, distancing the relationship with the consumer through a browser ID or single sign-on also decreases the revenue potential for publishers to monetize authenticated data.

What does the future of programmatic look like? How can the industry best collaborate around a future without third-party cookies?

The answer is simple: trust. Our future ecosystem will prioritize consumer trust in ways we failed to do with the third-party cookie, while also enabling business continuity in a post-cookie world. Up to 40% of browser inventory is already cookieless today, and we’re already experiencing early-stage momentum that proves we can excel without the third-party cookie. We will move forward with people-based advertising on authenticated inventory across an open, collaborative internet.

In this trusted ecosystem, publishers will be empowered to take back control of their data and grow yields for high-value audiences. This model better serves publishers – and their advertiser, platform, and most importantly, consumer, counterparts – giving rise to a more secure, transparent, and efficient foundation for all, leading to a better, safer internet.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read.

That’s an easy one – Terence Kawaja, founder and CEO of LUMA Partners. I think he is among the smartest people in our space. I’d also love to hear from Mary Meeker, who always has a pulse on where things are going.

Jason White is the Senior Vice President, Head of Publishers at LiveRamp. White is responsible for driving the use of the firm’s Authenticated Traffic Solutions by publishers.

Prior to LiveRamp, Jason was the Executive Vice President and General Manager of Global Programmatic at Viacom CBS.

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LiveRamp is the leading data connectivity platform for the safe and effective use of data. Powered by core identity resolution capabilities and an unparalleled network, LiveRamp enables companies and their partners to better connect, control, and activate data to transform customer experiences and generate more valuable business outcomes. LiveRamp’s fully interoperable and neutral infrastructure delivers end-to-end addressability for the world’s top brands, agencies, and publishers.

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