Peer39 Uses First-Party Audience Data to Power Contextual Ads

With privacy concerns, the gradual removal of cookies, and increasing restrictions on third-party data all limiting the targeting capabilities for brand advertisers in 2021, adtech firms are racing to develop alternative solutions. One of the most exciting recent developments has been the growth in contextual AI, which leverages the power of machine learning so brands can serve relevant ads without relying on cookies or third-party data. 

Peer39 became one of the latest entrants in the contextual AI space just this morning, launching first-party contextual onboarding to turn advertiser intelligence into future-proof targeting categories. In practice, this means advertisers that can no longer track customers across the Web with cookies can use first-party information about them to serve them ads based on their interests.

“In recent years, advertisers have made significant investments in first-party intelligence, and it’s quickly becoming an advertiser’s most important and valuable asset,” says Mario Diez, CEO of Peer39. “With the end of cookie-based advertising looming, the challenge they all face is protecting their investment before the cookie ceases to exist.”

Designed for advertisers, publishers, and data providers that use first-party audiences, Peer39’s new First-Party Contextual Onboarding solution takes performance data and customer insights and turns it into targetable categories based on contextual signals. Those signals work across all ad buying platforms, with contextual classifications that buyers can use to build their programmatic targeting strategies in a privacy-compliant way.

Diez says First-Party Contextual Onboarding is a game changer, and that the solution was setup to appeal to those who are looking for a way to continue to reach their audiences when cookies go away.

“The alternative is that cookies disappear, and with it goes all of the intelligence they’ve spent years accumulating, including performance insights and a view into the best customers and prospects,” he says.

Developing a product like First-Party Contextual Onboarding isn’t without its challenges. For starters, there is an evolution in how platforms report and provide capabilities for contextual intelligence, and it’s not necessarily easy for contextual signals to be applied broadly. Exposure logs and reporting interfaces have been traditionally focused on audiences, which are attributable to cookies. Diez believes that reporting signals need to adapt in their accessibility and utility to bridge the gap for the broader contextual need for the industry to grow.

Diez says a number of brands and agencies have already started using Peer39’s First-Party Contextual Onboarding service, and early results show that informed contextual categories drove 3x to 4x the increase on overall conversion rates. Quality signals, like ad clutter and content richness, were also shown to generate upwards of 2x lift in engagement rates.

The benefits of contextual AI go beyond targeting. With the advertiser landscape quickly changing, contextual AI is giving brands a safer, more transparent option. Growing restrictions on third-party data collection have knee-capped brands that relied on the data for behavioral targeting.

Industry Expansion

Peer39 is not alone in the space, but Diez says most firms that say they’re working on contextual solutions are actually just asking advertisers to target based on keywords. That’s the old way of doing contextual targeting, and he says it’s not sufficient to replace the performance that advertisers have gotten from cookies over the last decade.

“What we’re doing at Peer39 is turning first-party data into a lasting contextual targeting asset, much the same way that advertisers turn their first-party data into third-party audiences that they can target,” he says.

Just like advertisers, Diez says there are many media companies that have built substantial businesses by targeting based on commerce data matched to identity and cookies. As the market matures, he’s seeing these media companies taking that first-party intelligence and using it to expand and evolve their media practice around informed contextual signals.

“The emphasis on first-party data is around how it can be used, how first-party assets from key media partners complement their data, and what enrichment services can add value to existing first-party assets,” he says. “That last part, enrichment, is where the exploration comes in. Every advertiser is trying to understand what data signals are stable, deterministic, and survivable to help with their media, beyond simply matching first-party signals. This is where the contextual story fits in, and where we’ve seen most advertisers and media partners lean in.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

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