Harnessing Data in 2012: Q&A With Jeff Richman, Director of Publisher Development, LiveRamp

Maybe it’s early on to be calling it “The Year of…” anything, but all signs are telling us that 2012 is truly going to be the year of Big Data. However, we’re not talking about realization of the phenomenon – as DataXu Mobile General Manager Lara Mehanna said last week at Media Cross Media’s Big Data summit, 1.8 zettabytes (or 1.8 billion terabytes) bits ‘o data were produced in 2011. People seem pretty aware that the world is inundated in data.

No, 2012 would seem to be the year that companies – notably online publishers – tame the beast. To that end, Jeff Richman – director of publisher relationships for LiveRamp, provider of data enrichment services – shares thoughts on how publishers’ use of data will change this year, finding the talent to head up data strategies and why publishers will bump up data monetization efforts.

How do you see publisher’s use of third-party data changing in 2012?

Third-party targeting data will continue to be a valuable asset for just about any publisher that supports a direct sales team; the demand side’s appetite for data remains strong and only will continue to grow.

While we expect the usage of third-party data by both the buy-side and sell-side to be an increasingly important part of the sales process – we see publishers becoming far more intelligent about what data they contract for.

The emergence of DMPs and offline to online on-boarding technologies will help publishers leverage their first-party data and reduce the need to rely on third-party sources.

What is “audience extension,” and how can publishers use it to build revenue?

Audience extension is mainly about porting an audience that the publisher has on-site onto an exchange or other inventory source, and then serving ads to those users through that inventory source. For a publisher, if they have a valuable audience with valuable first-party data, extending the audience allows them to fulfill more premium demand from their clients to reach their audience.

Why will publishers increasingly look to data monetization for revenue? What kind of opportunities will they seek out?

The media industry is still trying to understand how to thrive within a world that is becoming digital-centric. The revenue growth in digital, though promising, simply cannot make-up for the heavy losses in ad revenue from traditional sources.

In part, it will be financial pressure that forces publishers to take a harder look at the different data monetization options they have available to them. Due to the demand for data, these opportunities are far more fruitful than they had been in the past and many of the monetization options are far lower risk than before in terms of channel conflict and data theft.

Data exchanges and marketplaces have built very effective platforms for helping pubs to manage their data at a granular level and solutions like LiveRamp offer ways for publishers to monetize without channel conflict risk.

Where should publishers look to find the talent to lead their data strategies?

At the moment, it is a difficult time for publishers that are looking to hire talented data leaders to guide their data strategy. The appropriate candidate needs to have an intimate understanding of data and ad tech, coupled with a strong vision for how digital sales is going to evolve.

That said, we think that some of the experienced team members from the buy side would make great sell-side leaders. They have a strong sense of what savvy digital marketers are asking for, as well as hands-on experience with data and the nuances of the ad-tech ecosystem. People who manage data at ad networks/DSPs and people at agencies with experience in data and analytics all would be good candidates. We’re starting to even hear more about former Wall St. type analysts with very quantitative backgrounds taking data roles in ad tech.