Publishers Clearing House Media Has a Trove of Clean Data
Publishers Clearing House (PCH) conjures images of sweepstakes winners being surprised with large-sum checks and bouquets of balloons.
Since its founding in 1953 as a means to sell more magazine subscriptions via direct-mail promotion, PCH has evolved into a digital entertainment and commerce destination for millions of consumers in the United States, and one of its largest sources of revenue is advertising. The company has a comprehensive suite of solutions to help its clients find targeted audiences and reach them using programmatic ads, email, and surveys.
PCH has amassed more than 170M opt-in privacy-safe users who play its games for a chance to win prizes. The first-party audience data provides insights to enable its clients to determine common characteristics among their most valuable customers or prospects.
PCH announced recently that its website recorded a traffic lift of 13.6% from Q3 2022 to Q4 2022, reaching an audience of nearly 16 million users as of October 2022, according to the latest release from Comscore. These results reflect PCH’s position as one of the most-visited Multi-Category publishers on the internet, demonstrating strong user growth and engagement.
StreetFight sat down with Bill Masterson, President, Publishers Clearing House Media, to learn about the secret to its success as an advertising partner for big brands.
Describe your role as president of PCH Media.
Publishers Clearing House has been around for almost 70 years with a very established direct-mail and commerce business. We’ve had a digital-media business for the last 20 years or so. The focus of the company has really turned to the media side. We’re able to take our assets, data, engagement, and our chance-to-win experiences online and make those valuable to brands that are trying to get users to similarly engage with their products and properties.
You worked at Twitter, Google, and Facebook. What did you learn at those companies that you have applied to PCH Media?
These platforms are always pushing the envelope, and that’s where you’re learning the latest and greatest stuff and trying to apply it. It’s the knowledge of what is working, how to make things more effective on the media side, learning some of those tools at Google and Facebook, and applying it here. We try to be smart about how we’re running media, packaging our solutions, and bringing stuff to market that is not only good today but it’s able to endure as the digital media landscape is in a constant state of evolution.
Tell me about PCH Comscore rankings. How did that come about?
Any Comscore customer can see the rankings. We were categorized as a multi-category, which also has some behemoths in there, like Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Yahoo. In February, we were top 20 in total visits, with over 14 million uniques. We’re also in the top 15 for views per visitor, in the top 10 in total minutes, minutes per visitor, and page views.
PCH Audiences is a new product. How does it work?
We launched it at the end of last quarter. PCH Audiences allows us to make our properties better and make our own ad products better. Marketers can come to PCH and target, let’s say, military veterans, pet owners, or, more specifically, dog owners. We’re allowing them to target those people through their DSPs wherever those DSPs provide them the ability to access inventory. It’s sort of like we were a walled garden, unintentionally, because we’re so focused on building our own experiences and making things better on our property.
Can PCH be considered its own walled garden in terms of advertising?
We were in a walled garden without doing it deliberately. And now we want to be the first walled garden to lower its walls, but in a very thoughtful and privacy-secure way. We’ve given away $570 million from our different contests and sweepstakes. Privacy and security have always been at the core of what we do. The users and engagement that we have are massively valuable to brands. The way PCH Audiences has been built is we’ve had over 100 million people sign up and participate in the PCH experiences over the course of time. They’re opting in to share their data for better experiences.
We’ve built PCH Audiences from a subset of about 50 million people. But those are the very active fertile people that brands can now target. Brands would normally have to go out and buy everybody aged 18 plus. They waste a lot of money getting to that answer. With PCH Audiences, you’re starting with the people that are proven.
Describe one of PCH’s data integration/partnerships.
We did an integration at the end of last year with LiveRamp, making our segments available in LiveRamp’s data marketplace, which is connected to hundreds of DSPs that brands are using. Brands can pull our segments into their DSP and start to buy against those.
Is advertising PCH’s largest source of revenue?
It’s not the largest source. For the last 25 years, you come to PCH.com because you want to win something. We’ve had over 10 million winners. To win something, you enter our sweepstakes. When they register, they check Ms., Mr., or Mrs., which is a proxy for gender. The full name, address, email, and date of birth. We need that to fulfill the experiences that the users want. They’re giving us very clean, pristine information. We get the primary email address more often than I’d imagine a normal publisher would get. If they win, they want to be found. We also have a big surveys business, which allows us to understand more about users. We have a Redemption Center to redeem tokens for playing games and participating in contests. We give everything from a $50 gift card to a brand-new Ford truck. And billions of those tokens are redeemed every single day. So we understand a lot about our users’ interests.