How publisher alliances can provide addressability at scale

How publisher alliances can provide addressability at scale
Ben Cicchetti
Tuesday, May 5, 2020

As we covered in our previous blog, publishers and other media companies are seeking to future-proof their advertising businesses through building registered addressable audiences. These audiences can then be made available for brands to match their first-party data against to deliver targeted and personalised advertising. 

One of the challenges these emerging addressable audiences face is scale. When compared to the size of the audiences that the walled gardens can provide, which have the ability to reach billions of individuals, the millions of customers that a single premium publisher may not provide the reach that brands have become accustomed to, at least, initially. 

Building scale through publisher partnership

One option available to publishers is to build data co-ops. These alliances enable multiple publishers to make their audiences available as a single unified audience for brands to plan their advertising campaigns against and activate across. 

Publisher alliances are not a new concept, and the potential success they offer has already been demonstrated. In 2012, La Place Media in France achieved a 70% increase in programmatic CPMs in its first two years. And this side of the English Channel we have seen the Ozone Project come together over the last couple of years to offer an addressable audience of over 44.5 million. 

Challenges to publishers working in partnership

If a publisher alliance is a solution to achieve scale across various addressable audiences, why do we not see all publishers working together in this way? As with any data co-op, there are a number of challenges that must be overcome to achieve a lucrative alliance.

Data Privacy

Creating a unified audience may require the sharing of customer data. Historically this has been achieved by centralising data in a third-party environment where it can be analysed, segmented and activated against. 

We have seen an increase in data privacy regulation in the last 2-3 years, including the GDPR in Europe and CCPA in the United States. This has led to a considerable increase in compliance burden on owners of personal data, such as publishers. This has meant data owners are increasingly unwilling to pool data to power initiatives such as data alliances. 


Privacy is not the only challenge when it comes to the centralisation of data. In addition to privacy concerns, we have witnessed an ever-increasing number of data breaches and leakages. Many of these have been exacerbated by businesses continuing to share personal customer data with other parties and platforms in the advertising ecosystem. 

Centralising the personal data of their customers makes alliances an attractive PII honeypot that could be targeted by hackers. Additionally, it creates a single point of failure for leakages. 


The most effective publisher alliances would include media owners who are natural competitors. Therefore, each member of the data co-op will be anxious to maintain the commercial value of their audience. Data centralisation therefore simply isn’t an option. Even if the data is pooled by an ‘independent’ third-party, they risk this data being used for the commercial benefit of their competitors. 

All the benefits of a data co-op, without the challenges

These three challenges may seem insurmountable to publishers striving to build scale of known audience data. However, the answer to unlocking lucrative publisher alliances lies in publishers keeping control of their data at all times. This means ensuring that no data ever has to be shared between the various members of the alliance while enabling them their combined audience to be analysed, segmented and activated against by brands. This means that centralisation is not the answer rather the solution has to be decentralisation. 

Next-generation data platforms are providing solutions built on federated technology. These new solutions, such as those offered by InfoSum, enable various data sources to be analysed ‘as one’, without any data owner having to share their data. 

Through the InfoSum platform, data is uploaded to a secure and isolated Bunker that only the data owner can ever access. These Bunkers can then be connected through anonymous mathematical representations of the data. This enables a unified audience to be created by a publisher alliance, without any party having shared any raw data. Brands can then match their first-party customer data against this unified audience (again without sharing any data). This is data onboarding shaped for a privacy-first world.

Delivering privacy-by-design publisher alliances

Through privacy-first technology, publisher alliances can now be created where every party retains control of their data while providing a unified addressable audience that can provide the greater scale that provides a viable alternative to the walled gardens. 

Finally, by using solutions with an analytical layer, such as InfoSum, a planning experience can be delivered that is as simple and seamless as that provided by the walled gardens. 

Once an addressable audience has been created, either as part of an alliance or by an individual publisher, media owners can begin to compete with Facebook, Google and Amazon. In our next blog, we’ll dive into how addressability creates real competition to the triopoly.

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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