Advertisers are keenly aware of the power of personalization. Personalized digital ads deliver up to 3x the consumer engagement of non-personalized ads. Some 69 percent of marketers say personalization is their top priority.

But just as marketers can craft messaging for one-to-one communications, publishers can customize their content to win over new readers and keep them there. Doing so requires access to real-time data. A Forrester Research report found that 67 percent of publishers believed real-time data was important to their efforts, but only 27 percent of publishers said they received such data.

To illustrate how it works, look at how publishers acquire new readers. A reader might stumble on an interesting headline on Twitter and then realize that they like The Economist. After some consideration, they might even want to become a subscriber.

When the reader first visits the site, the publisher may have just one opportunity to win over a reader by making the experience personalized, relevant and engaging. That requires real-time data that’s segmented into actionable audiences for content and ad personalization on the first interaction. Tailored content ultimately leads to a better user experience.

Here are three ways that that such real-time data can do that and impact publishers’ bottom lines.

1. Increase engagement, time-on-site and retention

It’s difficult to convert sometime readers (a.k.a. snackers) into subscribers, but real-time data can help publishers create the best experiences possible to boost their odds. Imagine this scenario: Behavioral data shows a visitor to your site has been shopping for a new bicycle, so you show them an ad for a Bianchi Infinito CV Ultegra. Sounds great, right? The problem is, the consumer just bought that bike offline, so it’s a wasted impression. The advertiser’s not happy and the reader isn’t either because it’s an example of clumsy targeting. There’s a lesson here for publishers. Most are obsessive about watching their metrics in real-time to see which content is catching on with users. Real-time tools can recommend articles to a reader based on their profile. Publishers can experiment to see the right number of articles that convert readers to subscribers. But editorial is only one part of the equation. Ads that are relevant and in a preferred format can enhance the reader’s experience, too. Real-time data adds another layer of relevance.

2. Boost programmatic revenues

For publishers, the formula for increased revenues is simple: more readers equals more revenues. By capturing readers on the first visit, publishers can create new revenue opportunities. Understanding who those readers are is also important. For example, a luxury jewelry brand might want to target upscale consumers for a holiday push. A publisher might realize that 15 percewnt of its audience fits that description. Since advertisers pay higher CPMs to reach such audiences, publishers can significantly increase their rates. Publishers can also create personalized content to increase time spent and encourage such readers to return.

3. Expand audience size

Publishers can use real-time data to increase their audiences. Personalized content can increase engagement, which can, in turn, boost content sharing. But that’s not all; publishers can also use their first-party data to target content at lookalike audiences who have a higher likelihood to engage with it. Such publishers are using real-time data to target lookalike audiences at scale. Real-time adds another layer to such targeting. If a potential reader has a strong interest in environmental news, for instance, then a publisher can leverage breaking news on that topic in a sponsored post aimed at that reader.

It’s time that publishers caught up to marketers on the personalization front. The evidence for using real-time data is overwhelming. And publishers who are not yet using it will be at a disadvantage.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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