Konrad Feldman: Well, I’m delighted to now be joined by Mike Smith of Hearst. Mike, thank you so much for joining us. Could you maybe start by introducing yourself and telling us about your role at Hearst?
Mike Smith: I am the Chief Data Officer. And the groups that I work most closely with at Hearst are the data science group, the data analytics team, data engineers; I work closely with our product team, and I work with a research team.
Konrad Feldman: So Mike, there’s an awful lot changing our industry right now with huge implications for publishers and for advertisers. What’s top of mind for you?
Mike Smith: Top of mind are the changes in our industry centered on identity and privacy; the retirement of the third-party cookie by browser companies and soon Google with Chrome is something that we and other publishing companies are closely monitoring and working with.
Konrad Feldman: Mike, tell me a little bit about Hearst’s approach to first-party data and maybe the journey along with that.
Mike Smith: So a very, very large audience visits the Hearst media properties every month, the digital instances, and that affords Hearst an opportunity to collect a great wealth of first-party data that can be employed in the service of not only our users, but also our clients.
Konrad Feldman: In terms of making use of that page, I know that you have a personal interest in advanced statistics, machine learning, and AI. Can you share a little bit about some of the successes you’re seeing with those techniques?
Mike Smith: We use ML models to develop audiences that can be advertised to, audiences that can receive ecommerce offers.
Konrad Feldman: One of the things that we’ve just announced is Quantcast Connect, which is a secure means whereby publishers’ and advertisers’ first-party data and predictive models can essentially be intersected. So that as a marketer, you can discover opportunities–where is the right high-quality environment to reach prospective audiences–and as a publisher, you can very easily identify the advertisers, often the non-endemic advertisers, that are looking for audiences that you can support. And I think of that as one example of ongoing innovation to sort of simplify how advertising works on the open internet. But if you had a magic wand, and you could change anything about our industry, what would it be?
Mike Smith: I think that if I could wave a wand, the open exchange self-service part would have identity solutions that would be fair in the realm of privacy to consumers, and also empower media buyers to still use identity appropriately–cohort-based identity is what I’m suggesting in this context–to continue to use that channel as a means of buying media.
Konrad Feldman: Yes, I agree. I think that finding that mix, well, obviously we have to strike the right balance in terms of consent for the use of data, and education of the role of advertising in supporting media, and effective solutions for advertisers and publishers to use whatever mechanisms are available–whether they’re contextual, whether they’re first-party database, whether they’re cohort-based–all of these things are going to need to interoperate together in a sufficiently straightforward way that we don’t dramatically increase the cost of doing business, which will take away from the money that’s available to fund any original content.
Mike Smith: And I think if a product for example, like Quantcast Connect, could cover both and perhaps it does, I think it helps the industry to cover both forms of programmatic advertising, and then in addition that the traditional insertion order approach. And I look forward to learning more about Connect.
Konrad Feldman: Mike, could you share with us a little bit about your experience of working with Quantcast?
Mike Smith: Our experience working with Quantcast is wonderful. We have a partnership with Quantcast that we each and all value tremendously. The entire team is very available and knowledgeable and incredibly responsive and helpful and proactive. So I would say that a partnership with Quantcast, one will find that you’re going to be working with exceptional people.
Konrad Feldman: Mike, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.
Mike Smith: Absolutely.