Publishers are facing a crisis. While subscriptions help fund these sites to some degree, the fact is, many of these publishers now rely on collecting user data to stay alive.
While there is a clear value exchange in a subscription business model (the users pays a fee and in return receive access to specific content), when it comes to data collection, this value exchange is not always so clear.
It’s created what some are now calling a ‘value exchange crisis’.
“Content isn’t free, plain, and simple. In order for publishers to continue delivering meaningful content and experiences, there must be a two-way value exchange,” said LiveRamp Director of Addressability for ANZ Louise Exton.
“For example: asking a reader to supply their email address to access gated content, and in return, providing them with an enjoyable and more personalised experience, e.g., delivering content recommendations based on viewing habits, or a wrap-up newsletter each week that encourages further engagement, and so on.”
Demonstrating a value exchange
Although publishers might understand this value exchange, the same cannot be always said about end-users, many of whom still see this content as free.
To demonstrate this value exchange, publishers need to start thinking about how they are communicating and connecting with their audience.
And according to Exton, this requires a dramatic strategic shift.
“Unfortunately, until recently, publishers have done a poor job of explaining this value exchange to individuals, and in some cases, publishers have even forced permission dialogues or prompts prematurely. That, and the increasing scrutiny surrounding consumer privacy, has led to a breakdown of trust between publishers and individuals. Hence the value exchange crisis,” she said.
“To demonstrate a value exchange, the individual must first be aware of the benefit they are receiving in return for sharing their personal information. The exchange is premised on trust, with consumers retaining control over how their data is used and with whom it’s shared.”
“To retain trust, publishers must continue to deliver upon the promise they made to the customer. In this way, publishers deepen relationships with their readers and readers return/continue to engage with them. It’s a win-win for both.”
While publishers are being urged to think about their first-party data strategy as they prepare for life after third-party cookies, Exton said it is important to remember users are humans, not just numbers.
“[Publishers] must prioritise the relationship with the reader, not just their first-party data,” she said.
“It’s a delicate line to walk, and requires publishers to think critically about the entire customer journey and experience from start to finish.”
This human-first approach could ultimately improve first-party data collection for the publishers, Exton explained.
“In return for content and personalised information, readers will share first-party data through authentications. It’s indisputable that authentications translate into higher-value inventory and better performance on a people-based level in comparison to third-party cookies or device-based identifiers,” she said.
“By investing in a privacy-first, authentication strategy, publishers can better harness the power of their first-party data, enabling them to provide a higher-quality channel for advertisers to reach their audiences.”