Bloomberg Media readies first-party data play
Bloomberg Media is developing its own advertising platform, called Bloomberg Iris, joining a growing list of publishers devising an in-house solution to ad targeting rather than relying exclusively on third-party solutions.
“Premium publishers find themselves in a situation where we are in a dual-revenue stream business,” says Julia Beizer, global head of digital at Bloomberg Media, who adds that publishers must support both the subscription side and advertising side of the same business. “What matters to both of those is our audience: that we’re respectful of our audience--and that we know who our audience is is important more than ever,” she says.
To help meet those expectations, Bloomberg Iris works by grouping information from signed-in subscribers into four broad categories: behavioral, contextual, personal and research data. Iris then processes this information to build deep insights of its audiences, something it currently nicknames, “contextual plus.” Iris creates segments that can be made available to all of Bloomberg’s direct or programmatic guarantee clients through the way they traffic and set up their campaigns, says Beizer.
The company says Iris does not use any information from its base of Bloomberg Terminal subscribers. (Terminal subscribers that log into Bloomberg Media properties are treated as “new” users by Iris.)
Bloomberg began work on Iris three years ago after its subscription-only business launched. The company began collecting first-party data and running it against machine learning algorithms to help grow and retain its subscribers. After major tech companies, including Google and Apple, announced a year ago they would stop supporting the third-party cookie as an advertiser identity solution, Bloomberg focused heavily on Iris’s development to create a privacy-focused solution that would not rely on third parties, and would build on its store of first-party data.
Bloomberg joins Washington Post, Forbes and Vox Media, among others, that are standing up first-party solutions. In 2019, the Washington Post announced Zeus, the publisher’s own in-house developed ad network. Zeus offers three products that can be used to buy ads, drive viewability and insights, and target consumers with ads on the back of collected data.
Publishers and ad tech companies alike are racing to create an ad targeting solution that can replace the third-party cookie, a small file saved to a browser that can build a user profile by tracking the sites a user visits. While preserving user privacy is a top concern, publishers also say there is a drive to protect the first-party data customers agree to give, and not to surrender it to a third-party.
“We absolutely would not have either a subscription or an advertising business if we didn’t take privacy concerns and user desires into account,” says Beizer. She says that while Bloomberg is watching the space closely, it is not currently supporting alternative ID solutions.
Beizer says some early uses of Iris data have included audience insights that were used in meetings with brands and advertisers. That data included insight about where audiences might be physically located, what content they consume and what interests they might have offline. The information can also be used to create customized, tailored products for subscriptions and advertising, for instance, being able to place the right ads in front of the right people, or time a subscription prompt to a user’.
While Iris is currently available, it will not be licensed to other publishers, unlike competitors like the Washington Post’s Zeus. Bloomberg says Iris will expand its data pool and its capabilities, including features for brands and advertisers in presale. “We are building this train while we are driving it,” says Beizer.