Last month, PILOT, the NAB’s innovation department, released the final report on a project focused on first-party data strategies for broadcasters. The purpose of the project was to address the fact that the digital advertising industry is phasing out cookies which track users as they browse websites. Beasley Media Group, Capitol Broadcasting Company, E.W. Scripps, Graham Media Group, Gray TV, Hubbard Radio, Morgan Murphy Media, TEGNA, and Salem Media Group all participated in the six-month program.
I spoke to John Clark, Senior Vice President of Emerging Technology for the NAB, and the Executive Director of PILOT, about the project and why radio broadcasters should be paying attention to the issue of first-party data. –Seth
1. Explain what the PILOT First-Party Data Director-to-Consumer Accelerator program is.
The program was created because the revenue impact of third-party cookie deprecation was identified as one of the highest priorities for digital leaders at broadcast companies. At PILOT, we wanted to address this head on by bringing together a group of broadcasters to collaborate on potential solutions and tactics. We knew that working together would be more beneficial for everyone. I describe the program as an intentional, real-time collaboration among broadcasters working on the same challenge.
2. Who should read this report?
“Digital leaders” is the obvious response, but this report is relevant to anyone with an interest in digital operations. The study we commissioned Borrell Associates to create showed a potential $2.1 billion loss in annual digital revenue. That number alone should cause anyone in broadcasting to take note.
3. So we're all on the same page, can you please define the following terms?
- First-Party Data: Data collected directly from the source with no intermediary.
- Second-Party Data: Data obtained directly from someone else like a trusted partner who shares their data directly with you.
- Third-Party Data: Data aggregated from various sources and obtained from data exchanges without a direct connection to you.
4. The report makes a compelling case that collecting first-party data should be a priority for broadcasters. Why is this important now?
The potential revenue loss as third-party cookies are deprecated is a big driver. Additionally, the increased desire to maintain and strengthen direct relationships with our listeners and viewers in a way that ensures privacy protections makes this work important. The direct relationships broadcasters already have with their audiences is an advantage, and one that will grow.
5. Describe what an ideal data-collecting initiative might look like. What are the big challenges to creating this?
I don’t know that there's an “ideal” data initiative because it depends on so many variables (size, market, audience, etc.). There isn’t a one-size fits all. An “owner” of data strategy is paramount, and that person should be empowered to build out the appropriate team and technology.
The challenges are easier to define: time and resources. Time is tricky because a first-party data strategy takes time. You’re not going to be able to flip a switch to create a larger data source. If you want a working data strategy in the future, you must start now. Having enough resources is always a challenge and especially so with first-party data because of the time required for return.
6. Collecting first-party data doesn’t have the same impact on programmatic, national, and local ad buys. Can you explain how it impacts each differently?
Programmatic advertising relies on third-party data and it will be the most impacted.
Local advertising is where the direct relationships broadcasters have with their local audiences comes in to play. These transactions are not going through intermediaries; they are direct and the ability to super-serve local advertisers and local audiences with first-party data is of great importance. Locally, I think first-party data will have the biggest impact.
National advertising is in between the other two. National buyers rely on data to buy at scale and while third-party may be going away, national buyers will be looking for data and data partners who can fill that gap. There is work happening to allow for sharing of data in ways that preserve privacy.
7. What would your advice be to bigger broadcasting companies? What would you say to smaller ones?
Play to your strengths. If you’re larger and have a “big” network, use it to your advantage. That network isn’t as big a global network, but it is big. You have the opportunity to use first-party and second-party data across your own network at some scale.
Smaller broadcasters can use first-party data to server their local advertisers. If you’re not able to tap into a larger “network,” tap into the local network in your own market.
8. Broadcasters tend to view other broadcasters as competitors, but do we have a shared interest in making sure that we all get better at collecting first-party data?
There is a shared interest; a rising tide lifts all boats. Consider this example: a national advertiser who wants to buy on first- or second-party data needs enough publishers making that data available in ways that preserve the privacy of the audience. It works much better if everyone — or at least a big majority of broadcasters — are doing that. While broadcasters are competitors, there are other much larger competitors in the marketplace that all broadcasters face.
9. The report includes strikingly candid summaries of experiments run by different broadcasting companies. What are the biggest takeaways for sales professionals?
I am really excited by the hypothesis reports that each broadcasters created based on their specific experiment. The discreet experiments helped everyone better define the first-party questions that we all need to ask.
I think all the participants would say that continued experimentation is of utmost importance – define, try, learn, repeat. This process should help sales executives better define the questions they should be asking of their data and of their clients.
10. What are the biggest takeaways for professionals on the programming side?
The process should help programmers ask better questions about their data. Capturing data is only one part of this; knowing what the data says and acting on it is another. These experiments are just constant refinements of what to do.
11. If a CEO reads this and is inspired to focus on their data collection efforts, what should their next step be?
Identify someone to own the organization’s data strategy and empower that person. What we saw during the project was that having someone who had overall responsibility for data initiatives across departments or organizational units made a huge difference. First-party data crosses all departmental boundaries.
- A Simple Digital Treat to Thank Your Radio Listeners This Thanksgiving - November 13, 2023
- Interview Questions When Hiring Your Radio Station's Next Digital Marketing Manager - November 6, 2023
- A Radio Conversation with ChatGPT: Part 2 – Promotions - October 30, 2023