Issue No. 2, April 2020

As the ad tech industry faces ever-evolving privacy and scale challenges, first-party data has become increasingly more valuable for media owners and publishers, and we anticipate that to continue.

We’ve seen major changes recently with Chrome limiting third-party cookies, other browsers embracing consumer privacy, the rising use of ad blockers, and of course, GDPR and CCPA regulations limiting the ability to use common third-party data segments. All of these factors limit the scale of third-party data, which makes first-party data that much more important.

Advertisers need the ability to execute data-layered campaigns in a privacy-centric way, and publishers have the data to make that possible.

In addition to the increased value that first-party data holds in regards to privacy regulations, there are also economic benefits. Publishers who activate their data can secure larger budgets from buyers in addition to charging premium rates for valuable audience segments. In fact, when private and curated marketplace campaigns in our platform are layered with data, we’ve seen average CPM rates nearly double.

Data privacy regulations are likely not going to become any less restrictive than they are today. As an industry, we need to find solutions that still reach our target audiences, take consumer preferences into consideration, and benefit the entire ecosystem.

That’s the focus of this issue of the Catalyst, and we hope it helps you organize and activate your first-party data. As always, please share your opinions, questions, or feedback with us as we all work together as an industry to tackle these challenges.

Kristen Williams
VP, Strategic Partnerships

Ask an Expert:
Can Unified IDs
Replace Cookies?

Google’s move to kill third-party cookies may not have been a surprise, but it was a push to the industry to find a new solution, faster. Are unified IDs that right solution to replace cookies?

We asked Jessica Berman, Principal Product Manager at SpotX, to share more.

Unified IDs are an industry solution that map disparate cookie IDs to a single user and streamline the syncing process that occurs today. Currently, when a user visits a webpage for the first time, numerous ad tech platforms sync with one another to identify the user according to their own cookie ID. All of this syncing slows down page loads, drives up costs, and – most importantly – lowers match rates.

There are a number of unified ID solutions available already, including The Trade Desk unified ID, which was introduced in 2019 and made available to the industry as an open source ID, and DigiTrust, which is a similar option supported by the IAB Tech Lab.

However, there’s still the likelihood that unified IDs will get caught up in the death of cookies. Mozilla has already said it will block the DigiTrust ID in Firefox. First-party data will certainly continue to increase in value and importance, but there are still open questions about the path forward in a cookie-less world.

Some of the existing unified ID solutions will help for a period of time, but also depend on browser acceptance. We are starting to see new proposals in nascent stages being discussed. The goal is to have extensible tools that can coordinate consent and enable the follow of data between businesses, while ensuring privacy preferences are adhered to across transactions.

Together, we can collaborate on solutions that provide economic benefits and support a marketer’s ultimate goal: consumer choice.

Product News:
Political Data Segments

More consumers are cutting the cord in favor of streaming content, so political media buyers are also moving beyond traditional TV campaigns to reach potential voters through highly targeted and scalable CTV strategies. Media owners have the opportunity to capitalize on CTV’s growth and unlock more value from their inventory by enabling buyers to target specific voter segments across all screens and streams.

SpotX has a complete taxonomy of data segments spanning all parties and issues available through our partnerships with best-in-class data providers. Examples include:


  • L2 > New registrant (after 2018 general or after 2016 general)
  • Data Trust > Voters who registered to vote after Nov. 8, 2018
  • i360 > Newly Registered Voters
  • TargetSmart > First-Time Voters


  • L2 > Hispanic Voters
  • Data Trust > Hispanic Voters
  • i360 > Hispanic Voters
  • TargetSmart > Hispanic Voters


  • L2 > African American Voters
  • Data Trust > African American Voters
  • i360 > African American Voters
  • TargetSmart > African American Voters

"As the premier data firm on the right, Data Trust is on the front lines ensuring our constantly enhanced voter file is actionable on all platforms for Republican and conservative organizations. We are thrilled to engage with SpotX to ensure right-leaning campaigns at all levels maintain a voter contact advantage in 2020."

- Michael Marinaccio, Chief Operating Officer at Data Trust

“For nearly 50 years, L2 has sought out and worked with leaders in technology and voter contact utilizing our enhanced national voter file, which is why we’re excited to work with SpotX in the 2020 election cycle. SpotX’s reach to all screens both in and out of the home, including connected TVs, matched to our best-in-class voter file will reach voters in a targeted and impactful way.”

- Paul Westcott, Senior Vice President at L2

Partner Spotlight:
How to Work with DMPs
to Activate First-Party Data

We spoke with a few of our data management platform (DMP) partners — Nielsen, Neustar, and Oracle — to understand how media owners and publishers should activate their first-party data. With so much of the data landscape changing so rapidly, it is a challenge to know where to even start. These insights will help get you on the path to increased inventory value and higher revenues.

Q: What are the benefits you see for a media owner who houses their first-party data within a DMP?

Nielsen: A DMP should, at its core, equip the publisher to generate more revenue. It does so in three main ways:

  • Increase the value of the publisher’s inventory;
  • Facilitate monetization of a publisher’s audience; and
  • Support the publisher in engaging its users.

Oracle: Revenue comes in the form of gaining the highest yield possible with the most sell-through possible for ad monetization, or from subscribers paying a recurring fee to access content. A DMP enables publishers to do both with more insight, efficiency, and scale than perhaps any other data-centric solution. Publishers leverage data collection, segmentation, taxonomy, and marketplace functionality to capture, segment, and monetize their unique first-party audiences. They then also leverage deep insights, third-party audience data, and modeling to extend their first-party audience and use off-property targeting to find new high-potential subscribers to grow their top-of-funnel prospects and acquire more consumers of their content.

Q: How are you helping media owners sell against their first-party data? How do you help them activate it and improve their returns?

Nielsen: The very point of the DMP is to make a publisher’s data actionable. DMPs allow media owners to monetize their users by facilitating second-party data deals via audience extension, contributing to data-driven private marketplaces (PMPs), or directly selling data to advertisers. It’s important to note that in order to drive revenue and sales, an insights tool is essential to the platform. This tool allows the publisher to determine what attributes and behaviors their users exhibit which, in turn, informs how they prospect new advertisers, answer RFPs, and bundle inventory. Finally, the last fundamental piece of any platform is to give the publishers the ability to activate those audiences across the ad tech landscape.

Q: For a media owner just beginning this process, where should they start?

Neustar: A good place to start would be evaluating your current data assets. A few questions to start the process are:

  • What type of intelligence can you gather from your logged-in users? What about demographic, psychographic, propensity, geographic, behavioral attributes?
  • Are you aggregating your authenticated traffic to provide advertisers with user profiles that add value to your placements?
  • How many unique emails do you have visiting your site daily, weekly, or monthly?
  • Is there a demand for this first-party data from advertisers and agencies? What differentiates your users from other sites?

Oracle: We suggest first gaining a clear understanding of your current ad yield to establish a baseline for ROI — before implementing a DMP. Then, start with your use cases and data sources to begin developing your unique strategy that will drive the most incremental value and revenue.

Q: How do your recommended data strategies differ for publishers that have logged-in users compared to publishers that don’t have login profiles? How can those without login info be successful now and in the future?

Nielsen: Many publishers hope that login information will be the final solution to their woes. However, what’s more important is aligning the publisher’s business model (ads, subscription, e-commerce, events, etc.) with the customer’s expectations. While many publishers will try to do many things well, the most successful publishers will focus on one or two business models that are the best fit for their users, and then select the right solution accordingly.

Regarding ad sales, logged-in users are a better fit for lower-funnel campaigns since the publishers have more information about them compared to non-logged-in users (who, inversely, are a better fit for top-of-the-funnel campaigns). A DMP, via its insights tool, should be able to find differentiating attributes between users that have created logins and users who have not.

Q: How can publisher-provided IDs (PPIDs) enhance data quality? Do you see this as an important implementation strategy in order to remove reliance on third-party cookies?

Neustar: Neustar is working with the top publishers to establish a personally identifiable information (PII) identity sync using hashed emails. The hashed email is replaced with a pseudonymous Neustar Identifier that is used to measure marketing impact at the user level. This process is predicated on the publisher collecting, storing, and providing authenticated (logged-in) traffic.

Oracle: One of the strategies to reduce reliance on third-party cookies has been underway recently across large-scale media owners. These companies often have, or are rapidly developing, their own private ID graph or PPID. The benefit here is that they gain a holistic view of their customers wherever they are engaging with them. These publisher private graphs can be used for analytics and activation use cases (e.g. easy access to desktop vs. mobile content, subscriber type). Then, they can maximize the value of that ID graph data by mapping these private ID graphs into the largest ID graphs across the globe, resulting in unprecedented insight into the behavior and interest of these visitors – a key capability which leading DMPs should have inherent in their platform.

Q: How do you see the importance of first-party data shifting over the next year for both publishers and advertisers?

Neustar: It will continue to grow in importance as the cookie is phased out. We predict that publishers will continue to compete with the platforms and walled gardens that require authenticated traffic to access content. This will provide publishers with their own valuable asset that can provide sustainability and differentiation to gain advertising dollars. Advertisers have already realized the value of their first-party data, which is why we have seen a renaissance of sorts over the past three to five years with a heavy focus on customer data, data onboarding, and identity resolution to provide greater personalization, measurement fidelity, and campaign optimization.

This is a highlighted portion of a longer interview. Read more here.

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