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Growth Drivers for Publishers in 2021 with “The Washington Post”

  • - LiveRamp
  • 13 min read

With current and impending challenges facing the industry today, publishers and platforms are taking meaningful steps to help solve identity in a post third-party cookie and IDFA-regulated world

Jason Tollestrup, VP, Programmatic Strategy and Yield at The Washington Post and Jason White, SVP of Publishers at LiveRamp, recently spoke at the Digiday Publishing Summit on how publishers are leveraging first-party data to drive more meaningful results for marketers while improving their own monetization strategies.

Toward the end of the brief discussion, Jason Tollestrup shared two important things publishers should consider now, and in the future, to be prepared in a cookieless world:

“I think the most important thing about preparing for a year from now is testing and making some decisions on how to move forward. There have been a lot of publishers and some vendors sitting back with a wait-and-see approach. We need to jump in and move forward on a particular solution, even if that may change.The other thing that’s going to be important a year from now is being nimble. I can plan on what I think is not going to change. I think The Washington Post is moving toward a solution that is going to allow us to do a lot of what we can do today while maintaining privacy for our users, so I’m not as concerned about that. It’s all going to be, how do we get it done and what do I need to implement in the last 30 days?”

You can watch the full 15-minute discussion below. To learn more about how LiveRamp is helping publishers navigate a world without third-party cookies or get started with our Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS), send us an email at [email protected].



Coming up right now, would you please welcome to the screen? Jason Taleschuck, who’s the vice president of programmatic strategy and yield at the Washington Post And Jason White, SVP and Head of Publishers at LiveRamp, they’re gonna take us into a conversation on growth drivers for publishers in 2021. To the Jason’s. Take it away.

Thanks so much for the time. Jason, thanks for joining us today.

You have a very important remit in post. And, and we’re thrilled to have you here, and, and kind of pick your brain.

Today’s topic that we’re gonna cover is, is growth drivers for publishers, in 2021.

As mentioned, Jason is is a big thought leader, and, and and runs a big group, over on the Washington Post side with programmatic strategy and yield And with the current challenges that are facing the industry today, Catherine, hit on this in the last segment, she did an incredible segment. But she had highlighted the, the impending, you know, cookie-pocalypse and how important, first party party data is.

Washington Post has a a great perspective on this.

It’s gonna impact publishers and platforms.

They’re taking meaningful steps today, to help solve this, identity crisis in a post third party cookie and IDFA regulated world.

So with that, we’re gonna, you know, talk about how publishers are leveraging first party data.

To drive more meaningful results for marketers. At the end of the day, that’s what this is all about.

We as a publishing community in programmatic community, wanna create the most performant environments, for our marketers, and improve, their monetization strategies in the process. So Jason, again, welcome, to the, to the fireside chat. Thanks again.

Thank you.

Jason, I wanted to ask you, just kinda dive into it, on that topic. What what are some of the best, best practices and strategies if I if I’m a publisher, you know, for growing authentication?

That are out there.

Yeah. You know, that and it’s really funny as we were talking about it. So that’s not an easy question to answer. Right?

There is really no one size fits all answer, and it really depends on kinda like what what type of publisher you are. You know?

At the Washington Post, we are fortunate that we are, you know, we have a subscriptions base.

There is, also, like, you know, newsletter, email strategies. And then there are some publishers that, you know, they have a hundred percent logged in audience. And, obviously, that would be the most ideal in in certain situations you’d think about, like, the Spotify of the world and such, you know? So really just thinking about, like, running the gamut of all of that, the one thing I think that is most in common with all of this is that there needs to be some sort of value exchange. Right?

So why is a user going to turn over their information to you, and what benefits are you are you giving them? You know, whether that is like utility for, declaring, like, at the Washington Post where we have a mission that we’re trying to you know, that we’re trying to go after in terms of, like, you know, trust and, you know, and facts, and whether users feel like they’re they’re they had utility in helping that mission with a subscription. Yep. Right?

And also reading all the content from the newsroom helping to support that journalism. That’s really important. And a lot of our subscribers send us, you know, correspondence thanking us for the work that you know, the people in the newsrooms are newsroom is doing. And so, like, there’s a value exchange there.

Right? On the newsletter, email front. So, you know, we send curated content and getting people to sign up for that.

You know, especially, like, you know, I think everyone has seen, like, in twenty twenty, like, our any newsletter dealing with, like, the coronavirus and the election were hugely popular because people wanted to make sure that they they stated form on those project, on those particular topics. So giving giving their, information to us was highly valuable for that. But I realized that not all publishers fit that type of a mold. Right?

They’re not all news publishers, there might be people who focus on different topics, whether that’s, like, you know, luxury or travel or, you know, obviously things the posts do, but, like, some are more highly specialized. So thinking about that approach, you know, how do you build a product where, there is that value exchange and you’re providing some sort of utility to the end user to get them to turn that over. I don’t think simply just throwing up a wall is necessarily going to work if there is no value exchange. Right?

So thinking about that and having that drive, really, that decision making process is gonna be hugely important. So Unfortunately, I don’t have a silver bullet, but what I can tell you is if that value exchange prop isn’t there, it’s you’re gonna find it, it’s gonna be a lot more difficult to accomplish what you’re trying to do there.

Yeah. Yeah. No. I I agree. One of the things that, that we’re seeing, more and more of, with the publishers that we’re working with are you know, heads of identity, some of this sitting on, you know, teams like yours, some of this, you know, grows naturally out of, you know, programmatic teams because it’s very analytic function. Right?

A lot of CRM, a lot of CRM type.

Type functions, which have been existent, right, and and businesses like yourself because, obviously, you’ve and this is why we love speaking with, with folks like yourself.

You know, it centers on you understanding more about your consumers and being able to provide a, you know, a more valuable experience, you know, when you come to that, I think consumers expect that, when they come to the Washington Post. That’s an area that that you all over index on. CRM, you know, is that the kinda center of that. Right? Analytics is at the center of that.

And, and more and more, we’re seeing publishers invest in this. They haven’t invested in it before. Because they have to. You know, ultimately, you’ve seen the kind of CRM aside from publishers like yourself, like, on the marketer side of the business.

Right? They’ve known more about their audiences. They’ve known contact strategies that they should provide to get them through that, like, life cycle, of the of the purchase funnel. And and there’s gonna be some there are similar purchase funnels, on the, on the publisher side, and in deciding, like, which path to take them down, those that over index, on that muscle.

Like you said, are are gonna be the most successful because can’t just throw a wall up in front of them. Completely agree with that. Right. And the other categories that you’re talking about, I I see a world where I will click and give my information to understand the twentieth thing about Sarah Michelle Gellar that I didn’t know, if it’s valuable to me.


And as you said, on the business side, you know, it’s like you utilize that information to help move people through the funnel in our case you know, subscriptions is really important to us.

So that information does help in that process. So, like, you know, at the post, we’ve had and thought about this for quite some time.

So it’s just I I know there are publishers out there who, as you said, are really starting to have to think about that this year. So just again, making sure that you’re thinking about that value prop the value exchange is what’s gonna make you successful.

A hundred percent.

But then that’s a good transition, Jason, I think too.

How what is your experience from Washington Post? Is from the Washington Post perspective, on, you know, how, you know, publishers, can be assisted. I I know that you guys have Zeus. Right? How does Washington Post kind of perspective? Like, what you’ve just talked about there, you’re providing incredible solutions through use, to publishers, from a monetization perspective, you know, from a from a hands on perspective, in the world of first party identity.

How how does your your perch kind of help them?

Yeah. So it’s kind of like and I’ll talk about this in two ways, the the, anonymous users versus the the identified users, but just first as a quick, like, just so everyone understands who doesn’t know Zeus. I mean, what that is, there’s a few components to it. Right?

So, Zeus’s performance helps elevate a publisher’s, ad speed, their viewability, their ad performance. It all goes up when you use Zeus. Right? People think of us sometimes as like a a header bit of wrap or what really we are an ad rendering engine.

The idea is that things load faster. So we did that for the post, and then we developed use insights as part of it, which is like our own kind of first party contextual targeting, which is what helps you in kind of like non identified, audience. Right? So that’s gonna be really, really important for twenty twenty one.

And kind of what we’re doing with ours, these publishers and how we’re helping them is that we’re trying to create, you know, a network of highly performing publishers utilizing Zeus performance with Zeus insights as a as a taxonomy for targeting across all those publishers, and then we’re building a buy side tool. Right? So that’s going to allow access to really awesome, highly performing ads, and then not have to worry about, you know, okay.

Nothing’s relying on third party cookies in this particular situation. If I wanna target this particular topic, I can I can do that? And there’s over, like, twelve hundred topics that are available, in zoo’s insights, today.

In regards to kind of the identified and addressable part of it, you know, it’s really just, supporting publishers who are wanting to test these out. So, like, for example, users you wanna say, like, alright, I’m wanna use, like, live live ramps authenticate a traffic solution. We support that. Right?

We wanna make sure because, honestly, like, if I pulled up my crystal ball, and I think there’s probably been a lot of conversations about this over the last few days as to what the next, you know, a year from now is going to look like, you know, I can have a good I can take a good guess. And I think addressability is gonna be part of that. But it could be very different. Right? I think the most important thing about preparing for, a year from now is one Let’s test and move. Right? And let’s make some decisions.

I’ll I there have been a lot of, publishers, and you send to some vendors, like, the the kind of sitting back with a wait and see approach. I think we need to kinda jump in and make a decision and figure out, alright, let’s move forward on a different on a particular solution. And that may change.

And the other thing that’s gonna be really important a year from now is being, really nimble. I can plan on what I think is not going to change. And I think that we are moving towards a solution that is going to allow us to do a lot of what we can do today while maintaining a privacy for a user. Right?

Yeah. And so I’m not as concerned about that. It’s all gonna be, like, how do we get it done? What do I need to implement in the last thirty days?

I feel like, you know, if you remember how GDP rolled out in CCP as well. Like, you know, you got the kind of all the, specs and everything last minute. So all we’re all gonna need to make sure that we have nothing planned for next February or March or whenever that is so that we can all adjust to that.

But, yeah, I think that you know, we are a really, really resilient industry.

There have been I feel like every year, there’s something that, comes out of the marketplace that’s going to, you know, and advertising. And yet here we are, we’re still growing. I think what twenty twenty was, like, three hundred and thirty billion dollars of, of digital ad spend. That’s a lot. That’s a lot. Right? So I think that we’re all gonna end at a place where we are respecting the the privacy of the user, and, and yet we’ll still be able to do things like attribution and figure those types of things out.

Yeah. I I agree with you. I’m incredibly optimistic. I’ve often said that I think it’s gonna be a one plus one equals three scenario. I know that that’s tried.

But I think that, you know, you’re gonna see more monetization from a first party perspective.

It’s just axiomatic.

Marketers are paying higher premiums we see, on a on a user that is that user. The example I’ve used in the past is in the open ecosystem, I don’t click on high heels you ads for women.

I don’t get them when I go into a walled garden. I don’t get those in Facebook. I don’t get those in Instagram. Why? Because they know that I’m a man.

And in the new world, that’s not going to happen either because, you know, advertisers are gonna have more information from a first party perspective. But then on the contextual side, you know, with the technologies that you’re providing, there is gonna provide an incremental value, in terms of the CPMs that, that publishers are seeing today.

And then you have, you know, your other bucket of the Fox and the Turtle doves.

And a marketer is always gonna have prospecting prospecting, budget. Right? And so that’s kind of where that’s gonna fit, you know, context and, and, and, in the, in the, predictive, segments, the Fox and the internal bugs are gonna come from the prospecting budgets. And those are probably gonna perform better than the existing stuff that’s out today. I’ve worked on the marketer side before, and, you know, I worked for, TrueCar, running their, marketing as their CMO. And we would tap into third party data segments and these third party data exchanges of, you know, people that were in market to buy a car And we would find out that some of these cookies were pulled from NASCAR dot com.

Well, just because someone goes to NASCAR dot com doesn’t mean that they’re gonna buy an automobile.

You know? So, like, these things can get better. So I I agree. I think that, I think that that equation is gonna be more powerful, for publishers.

For sure.

Yeah. So, so the last, last kinda area here that we wanted to dig into, is, is how important is it to have, like, a comprehensive strategy when it comes to solving a publisher’s needs in a post identity world. We’ve touched on some of this.

What should that portfolio look like? I think of it as a portfolio or pie.

Yeah. You know, it’s funny. I I it’s tough to have a comprehensive strategy where there’s still a lot of questions out there. I think really what is the most important thing right now is to participate.

Right? Make your view as a publisher, make your views known as to what you’re expecting and what you’re hoping be part of these discussions about all of these solutions that are that are happening, you know, test things and also, make sure that, you know, like I said before, when it come February next year, don’t have some big project plan because we’re gonna have to all you know, shift really quick when they decide to pull the lever on that. So really, like, in my mind, those are really the most important things to as much as we can. Well, make those plans as we get more information about it. But at this point, just be prepared to to, you know, shift when the time comes.

Well, articulated and said, Jason, thanks, for taking time out of your day and, and and enlightening the group here. Always incredibly valuable to hear from you and the Washington Post.

James, we will turn it over to you.

I mean, the topic of the year certainly both of you. Jason Talstrup from the Washington Post and Jason White from LiveRamp. Thank you very much for being part of our show today. We hope you’ll come back and and let’s talk in February and see how things are actually happening.

Alright. I know that’s gonna be, that’s gonna be a huge moment as well for this story. So thank you very much. Have good afternoons, gentlemen.

You too. Thank you.