By working with Permutive, Entrepreneur Media has significantly increased audience scale and revenues. In just two months, the team has used the edge-based, real-time DMP to innovate with data and drive an impressive ROI through improved campaign results and a brand-new first-party data strategy.

About Entrepreneur

For 42 years, Entrepreneur Media Inc. has been serving the entrepreneurial community by providing comprehensive insights on business and personal success through original content, products, and experiences. Entrepreneur.com, GreenEntrepreneur.com, corresponding print publications and publishing imprint Entrepreneur Press provide solutions, information, inspiration and education read by millions of entrepreneurs and small business owners worldwide. The publisher helps advertisers reach this valuable audience with a breadth of offerings ranging from contextual targeting to custom sections, content, and more.

The challenge

Entrepreneur couldn’t see or activate its audience for its own promotions, or to provide audience-targeted media packages for advertisers.  

Entrepreneur connects a highly sought-after audience of business leaders and inspired minds as they start, run and grow their ventures.  While the publisher has successfully won RFPs based on the value of this audience plus a strong breadth of offerings for advertisers, it found audience-targeted media packages trickier to offer – and this was a significant roadblock to valuable revenue opportunities. In addition, the team found it difficult to activate their audience data for their own advertising and promotional activity.

This was because Entrepreneur’s Data Management Platform (DMP) couldn’t deliver the scale that reflected the publisher’s audience size. After building and targeting an audience segment, the Entrepreneur team would find the actual proportion they could reach with ad campaigns would be as low as 20% of the projection – and there were two main reasons for this. 

Target passerby users

Firstly, the team’s DMP couldn’t keep up with today’s browsing behaviors. Entrepreneur, like many digital publishers, sees a proportion of its audience visit infrequently or for a very short time – perhaps landing on the site briefly via a web search, or to read an article. This common ‘passerby’ user behavior means that publishers have a very short timeframe in which to segment and target users before they leave. Unfortunately, Entrepreneur’s DMP processed segments in nightly batches and couldn’t target users in real time, leaving the publisher unable to target approximately 60% of their audience.

These ‘passerby’ users would sometimes get added to segments after they were long gone from the Entrepreneur website – meaning these segments were outdated, containing users who weren’t actually available to target and might not be back on the site for weeks or months.

“If you can’t hit that user the moment they hit your website, you’ve lost them.” – Michael Frazier, Director of Ad Ops

Target on cookie-blocking browsers 

Secondly, Entrepreneur’s DMP wasn’t able to target effectively on browsers that block third-party cookies, like Safari and Firefox, leading to the loss of an additional significant proportion of their audience (up to 28.7%). 

As well as wanting to increase targetable inventory, the team at Entrepreneur wanted to be innovative with data, but found they were restricted by the limitations and inflexibility of their existing system.

 “We were halted by our DMP’s flexibility. We couldn’t do very many innovative things.” – Michael Frazier, Director of Ad Ops

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The solution 

Entrepreneur Media’s introduction to Permutive and the possibilities of the edge-based technology prompted the publisher to completely re-evaluate its needs. Although their existing DMP contract wasn’t near completion, the team investigated a number of providers and finally decided to run an A/B test with Permutive’s publisher DMP alongside their existing solution. They directly compared the same audience segments built in both, as well as testing for site responsiveness and ease of use.

“Building segments and lookalike audiences so quickly is something we weren’t doing before Permutive – it’s been valuable.” – Michael Le Du, COO

Given the fact that Entrepreneur’s biggest problem had been a huge discrepancy between their old DMP’s projections and actual targeting ability, they also went about evaluating Permutive by specifically testing the ability to target users compared to the projections.

SCALE INCREASE

As well as demonstrating the platform’s speed and ease of use, the test most importantly confirmed for Entrepreneur that Permutive was able to target its full audience – something the publisher had never been able to do before. The true real-time edge computing technology behind Permutive allows for segmentation and targeting in milliseconds, providing access to the ‘passerby’ audience Entrepreneur previously couldn’t capture. Permutive’s ‘cookieless’ approach also provided the team with better visibility of users browsing on Safari and Firefox. 

“We ran a test and let the numbers do the talking – and that really proved that Permutive can target significantly more people, especially on that first page view.” – Michael Frazier, Director of Ad Ops

The increase in audience scale was so significant to Entrepreneur that the team decided to deploy Permutive before their existing contract had come to an end. 

“We decided to switch to Permutive while our other contract was still going. The numbers just made sense.” – Michael Frazier, Director of Ad Ops

FIRST-PARTY DATA

Entrepreneur found that Permutive provided access to a wealth of new valuable first-party data – a benefit they hadn’t been expecting. The publishers was able to build its own industry-focused first-party data segments that are hyper-relevant to the business and are based on real indicators such as behavioral tendencies, removing the team’s reliance on third-party data.

“Permutive has helped us build first-party segments that we just didn’t have with [our old DMP], so we’re no longer reliant on third-party data all the time.” – Michael Frazier, Director of Ad Ops

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RFP WINS

After years of being unable to match advertiser demand for first-party data, Entrepreneur found that Permutive’s improvement of data flow armed its sales teams with the ability to propose differentiating and rich first-party data solutions for their customers, and close deals that they otherwise wouldn’t have won. 

 “We’re now able to create and deliver on a variety of different segments advertisers really want, opening up new revenue opportunities and rounding out our capabilities. Permutive is having a significant impact on our overall win rates and deal sizes.” – Michael Le Du, COO

Entrepreneur saw strong performance in core audience segments such as business owners, c-level leaders and decision-makers, all levels of company sizes, affluent income levels and age groups, as well as areas of interest such as travel, luxury goods, auto and more. The publisher has had success in being able to leverage a tailored mix of these segments to provide highly customized targets its advertising partners are seeking out.

USER UNDERSTANDING

Entrepreneur’s team saw value in the way Permutive stores first-party data on a per-user basis rather than just aggregating at audience level, as it allows them to apply a granular understanding of their audience for Entrepreneur’s own advertising, products, and services.

For example, the publisher is launching a variety of new products aligned with its mission of helping entrepreneurs, including ‘Entrepreneur Insider’ membership to virtual events, online business courses, and ‘Ask an Expert’ one-to-one coaching. With Permutive, Entrepreneur is now leveraging audience data to identify and target user segments that would find these products most useful and relevant to their needs based on their interests, what business stage they’re in, and other data. 

“We’re using Permutive’s user-level audience insights to align segments with suitable products. This’ll help deepen our audience engagement.” – Michael Frazier, Director of Ad Ops

“With all the data being pulled in, we can now build our own first-party segments using behavioral tendencies of people and other things of that nature. That was one of our goals.” – Michael Frazier, Director of Ad Ops 

DATA INNOVATION

Since moving to Permutive, Entrepreneur Media is finding it significantly easier to experiment with data, which was one of the team’s long-term goals. This, together with a vastly increased dataset, is allowing the team to work out baseline campaign optimizations and test campaign improvements resulting from targeting audiences based on interactions and verticals.

The team is working to improve Entrepreneur’s data ‘story’, using Permutive as a ‘data funnel’ to store audience information and make first-party data actionable in a way the publisher never could before.

Something I really like about Permutive is that it gives access to data in such a way that it’s easy to be really innovative with it.” – Michael Frazier, Director of Ad Ops

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“Being able to see those segments and do testing, together with the ease of the interface, has helped us iterate faster.” – Michael Le Du, COO

EARLY DEPLOYMENT

Entrepreneur’s deployment of Permutive before their existing DMP contract had ended made business sense given the ROI it generated in the test alone. It also made the change smoother and gave the team extra reassurance that their ongoing campaigns would be unaffected during the switchover.

The results

By implementing Permutive, Entrepreneur Media immediately benefited from a 7.6x increase in targetable inventory, and a marked improvement in campaign results.

For example, one campaign that had been pacing behind at 50% on their old DMP quickly rose to 80% upon Permutive implementation, and the team have been able to improve pacing further since.

The significant scale increase plus Entrepreneur’s new ability to provide advertisers with rich first-party segment offerings has allowed the publisher to drive an impressive 11x (1094%) ROI within two months of Permutive deployment.

Next steps

Entrepreneur Media has big plans for the future, and is using Permutive to devise innovative ways to use the data it now has access to. 

For example, the team is experimenting with Permutive’s mid-campaign reporting abilities for performance optimization and adjustments and applying learnings from this to build new lookalike segments to sell against.

Entrepreneur is also working to capitalize on its audience’s buying power outside of business products and services. Entrepreneurs have high affinities for travel, luxury goods, and other lifestyle-based products. Being able to target these segments with Permutive provides a new product offering that lets the publisher meet the campaign goals of more brands in these categories. 

One of the publisher’s biggest goals is to continue extending those rich first-party segments that are opening up so many new sales opportunities.

“As time goes on, I’m looking forward to working out how we can use the power of Permutive to better sell our products and services, and create value for our customers.” – Michael Le Du, COO

CASE STUDY SUMMARY 

Entrepreneur Media offers strategic insights and how-to guidance to millions of entrepreneurs and business owners. After realizing their existing data management platform wasn’t targeting up to 80% of this valuable audience, the publisher began the search for something new. When a test of Permutive technology showed a 7.6x increase in targetable inventory, Entrepreneur could finally see the audience they’d been missing – and decided it was well worth switching to Permutive even before their existing contract had ended. Entrepreneur has used Permutive to drive an ROI of 1094% in two months through significantly increased audience activation, improved campaign results, and the ability to provide powerful first-party data offerings to customers for the first time. 

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