Meredith Sells Data, Not Just Content

We listened recently to the Ad Exchanger podcast with VP of Data and Programmatic Solutions at Meredith, Chip Schenck. Schenck is an experienced hand who comes from a Dutch media family, all of whom started in print. But ten years ago, while working with Amex publishing, he discovered the value of data. When he realized that the future of publishing would be not only content but also data, Schenck got a job at  DSP Krux, and then moved to SSP Pubmatic,  making sure he understood the entire ad tech process before he went back to publishing. Schenck used his forays into ad tech as an opportunity to get deep and learn, and then take the learning back to publishing.

Schenck still thinks it is necessary to learn about ad tech if you are in publishing. Now he’s an internal consultant for Meredith, building digital strategies for all the Meredith products. Meredith’s products include data assets like its PII database, which started with print, but now includes branded products like the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, transactional data, subscription data, media purchase registration data, and the DMP.

Because it has been around for a hundred years, Meredith probably has more personally identifiable data than most publishers. But Schenck thinks anonymized users still have significant value. PII databases can’t be updated more than once a week, whereas digital information is updated three times a day. DMPs help improve data modeling that can be done with demographic and psychographic data, and the ability to use the wealth of all the different data  sources together is where the value is realized.

Meredith’s core focus is the American woman and her four biggest interests: home, food, family, and herself. The company publishes not only Better Homes and Gardens and AllRecipes, but Martha Stewart. It takes data from all those publications, and some others, like Traditional Home, and uses it to do things like  understand that quinoa will be hot before it gets that way. Once it gathers that information, Meredith has three separate sales organizations: corporate sales, digital sales, brand sales (print). Each of them can use the same data, which means that by now, digital data is about 30% of revenue. AllRecipes is a big brand because when people cook, Meredith can tell what they’re doing and pass that information on to the right advertisers.

Meredith’s quality content engages an audience of unique individuals, which helps them build great databases. Then they take those databases and put them through their proprietary tech stack, which includesShop Nation, an affiliate software that ingests the Target or WalMart feed and makes the leap from content to commerce, as well as Index and DFP.

They then offer the information to their best customers via PMPs (private marketplaces) that are run strictly on preference. The PMP is a curated experience and   is how Meredith’s old clients are guaranteed that they’ll get more than just first look. He helps them win in a programmatic audience and understand these performs, and he teaches the big clients to go for access and engagement rather than yield.

Schenck says PMPs are for differentiation, and he has some unique creative for them, such as shoppable formats. But if the customers really wants yield, he also offers a dozen or so different heading partners for the open exchange.

His theory is that programmatic isn’t going away, and he’s going to help Meredith’s customers make the most of it.