Graham Media Group boosts CTRs by 20% with first-party data and PPIDs
Success Story

Graham Media Group boosts CTRs by 20% with first-party data and PPIDs


If you're a publisher looking for new privacy-preserving data solutions ahead of third-party cookie deprecation, you're not alone. Graham Media Group (GMG), a broadcast television group who owns seven local television stations around the US, was in the same position. To address this challenge, GMG began exploring ways to create value by developing first-party audiences across their digital channels. To activate their audience data, GMG looked to Google Ad Manager’s publisher provided identifiers (PPIDs).

PPIDs are a durable, privacy-forward solution generated by publishers who have direct relationships with their users. They’re continuing to grow in popularity because they use a publisher’s first-party data to unlock capabilities like ad personalization, frequency management, and more in browsers where third-party cookies are restricted.

Survey-based first-party audiences

To reduce their reliance on third-party data, GMG started exploring the use of custom surveys to collect consented information from their audiences directly. They used their customer data platform, BlueConic, to create surveys on their website that asked visitors questions that would help gauge their interest in a specific subject, such as home improvement.

“Asking questions about how we can personalize their experience is the first step to building trust and providing better user experiences. There is nothing we value more than our trusted relationships with users.”

Michael Newman, Director of Transformation, Graham Media Group

Within three weeks of the start of their initial test, GMG had collected over 21,000 survey responses from their audiences. When people engaged with a survey, BlueConic used their responses to map them to different audience segments. GMG then created a unique publisher provided identifier for each respondent and batch-uploaded the segments into Ad Manager.

Boosting performance with first-party data

Once their first-party audiences were added to Ad Manager, GMG identified two advertiser campaigns that would be good opportunities to test PPIDs, both of which were for advertisers looking to reach home improvement intenders. To evaluate performance, they designed a three-arm study, with two data-driven arms and one control arm. GMG was sure to use the same creatives for all three approaches.

For the first arm of the experiment they activated their first-party audiences that were built using survey data. For the second arm, they applied a third-party home improvement audience segment. For the control arm, they applied no audience data.

Once all three arms had reached a total of 75,000 impressions, GMG began to evaluate the campaigns’ performance. The results were clear. GMG’s PPIDs and first-party audience data produced a 29% higher click-through rate (CTR) than the control arm, and a 20% higher CTR than the arm using third-party data.

“Beyond the obvious lift in performance, PPIDs opened up personalized ad experiences on platforms like Safari and Firefox that currently restrict third-party cookies.”

Araz Hashemi, Data Scientist, Graham Media Group

Innovating across platforms

GMG is currently working to field additional surveys to gather demographic signals and build additional audience categories such as auto and travel intenders. Their long-term vision is to use the first-party data collected across their web channels to train look-alike models to build audience segments across their Connected TV offerings.

“Utilizing the first-party insights and audiences we created for web is how we intend to build look-alike audiences for Advanced TV.”

Michael Newman, Director of Transformation, Graham Media Group

By investing in creative strategies to capture and activate first-party data, like surveys and publisher provided identifiers, Graham Media Group is preparing its digital advertising business for the future. “Publishers must evolve to thrive in the next era of digital advertising,” Newman said. “Google Ad Manager enables us to easily activate our audiences in new and exciting ways,” he added.

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