Competing with Facebook, Google & Amazon through addressability

Competing with Facebook, Google & Amazon through addressability
Ben Cicchetti
Wednesday, May 20, 2020

In our previous blog we covered how alliances between media owners can deliver greater addressability scale, enabling advertisers to deliver targeted campaigns across a larger authenticated audience. But why is increased scale important? 

The answer lies in the dominance of the advertising triopoly of Facebook, Google and Amazon (commonly referred to as Walled Gardens). Between them they are currently receiving almost 70% of digital ad spend. This leaves other premium publishers to compete over the remaining 30%.

The reason for this dominance can be summed up in a couple of key strengths these tech giants have over other online publishers - logged in user base and ease-of-use. 

Scale of addressable audience

We have covered what known addressable audiences are in more detail in a previous blog. The short explanation is individuals who can be targeted with advertising, based on an authenticated piece of knowledge, such as an email obtained through registration. 

Because all Walled Gardens require individuals to login to access their services, they all hold impressive known addressable audiences across with an ability to track individuals from device-to-device. 

Facebook’s current active monthly users is approximately 2.6 billion, Google follows closely behind with 1.17 billion, and finally Amazon comes up a little short at approximately 200 million monthly active users. Compared to this, publishers simply do not have authenticated audience sizes that can compete. 

While this scale is impressive, it’s important to note that the depth of knowledge they have can be sometimes quite limited. The walled gardens are constrained to the relatively imprecise signals we as users give when we engage with content on their platforms. This knowledge can be flawed. As an example, Google currently lists American Football as one of my top interests. I suspect this has been triggered by me watching Super Bowl ads and half time shows, because I haven’t watched an American Football game in over a decade. 

They also have “learnt” that I am into Metal Music (nope), Classical Music (nope) and Home Improvements (that could be dangerous). This flawed knowledge is likely leading to me being listed in some very irrelevant advertising segment and brands wasting valuable advertising spend marketing their products to me. 

It is this lack of knowledge of my actual interests that provides publishers the greatest opportunity to fight back. 


It can not be denied how easy the experience is to advertise through Facebook and Google. From a very accessible user interface, you are able to pick the audience you wish to target, add your creative and get started. 

One of the most important features to advertisers is the ability to laser target audiences that are already known to them, or who share similar attributes with those known to them through lookalike modelling. For Facebook, this is achieved through their Custom Audiences solution, and Google has Customer Match. 

To achieve this though, a brand must either upload their customer data into the Facebook and Google platforms, or include their third-party ID on their web properties. By sharing data directly with the Walled Gardens, advertisers can sacrifice control over their data assets and how it is used. 

Depth of knowledge through authenticated addressability

As publishers begin to build their known addressable audiences, they have the opportunity to provide advertisers with a depth of knowledge that exceeds that of the Walled Gardens. While Facebook, Google and Amazon base their knowledge on interests, publishers are able to provide knowledge based on intent and on strong behavioural signals.

For example, while the Walled Gardens have identified me as an american football fan because of behavioural triggers I have given, Bleacher Report knows that I am in fact a basketball fan. I have registered for notifications on the NBA, I regularly comment on basketball related content. I am therefore much more valuable to an advertiser through the knowledge Bleacher Report has, than Google. 

An additional advantage that comes from this depth of knowledge is a premium environment for ad placement, where the advertiser can ensure brand safety is protected. 

Tackling ease-of-use while protecting data privacy

Similar to the Custom Audiences and Customer Match solutions offered by Facebook and Google respectively, publishers can make these audiences available for advertisers to match their own first-party data against. However, it will be important that publishers find privacy-secure ways to enable brands to match their customers to these new addressable audiences. 

As we have seen in the TV market with Channel 4, new solutions are now available that enable brands to match their data against a known addressable audience, without either party having to share any customer data. Through InfoSum’s decentralised technology, Channel 4 are able to make their 23 million All 4 audience available in their BRANDM4TCH solution. Brands match their customer data against this audience, segment and send for activation without having shared any data with Channel 4. 

Publishers will need to seek similar solutions where they are able to both protect their audience data by not uploading into a third-party environment, while enabling brands to match, segment and activate directly using their own first-party data. 

In our next blog, we’ll dive into how these direct relationships between brands and media owners can result in more effective advertising campaigns that deliver greater ROI. If you haven't already, register for our newsletter to find out first when our latest blog goes live.

Visit our Addressability page to explore this topic further, including the journey from unknown to known, the benefits it brings and InfoSum’s approach.

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