How PMC is driving direct value for advertisers

The company

Penske Media Corporation (PMC) is a leading global media and information services company whose award-winning content attracts a passionate audience. Since 2004, PMC has been a pioneer in digital media and a platform innovator, reaching viewers on all screens across its ever-growing constellation of iconic brands, which includes Variety, Rolling Stone, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard, WWD, SHE Media, Robb Report, Deadline, Sportico, BGR, ARTnews, Fairchild Media, Vibe, IndieWire, Dirt, Gold Derby and, among many others.

The challenge

Regulators and tech are giving users the tools, awareness and choice to protect their privacy by opting out of data sharing. The effect of user choice is rippling through the entire ecosystem; whether it’s emails, cookies or other IDs, users are being given a choice in multiple ways in every environment.

In light of this, PMC needed to develop a strategy that would enable it to monetise 100% of its audience across its portfolio, even cookie-blocked or opted-out audiences, while respecting data choices. The company was an early adopter in understanding the need to develop a first-party data strategy. It needed a partner with a future-proofed solution that could weather the impact of user choice and the changing tech and privacy landscape.

Expertise in first-party data strategy development and a partner with a publisher-first roadmap was also a requirement. Finding a vendor that could provide industry-leading technology and expertise was a sought-after differentiator.

"We wanted a partner that would use our full investment to focus on enabling the PMC team to drive value for its partners."

Brett Goverman, Head of Data Strategy, PMC

The solution

Permutive met all requirements and is one of PMC’s most strategic partners. The partnership and first-party data strategy development saw several stages: initial foundational work, and data segmentation, which resulted in improved first-party data analytics and internal training.

Building a first-party foundation

Investing in an Audience Platform built on first-party data encouraged PMC to rethink what content and audiences make it unique to advertisers. The company started by identifying the datasets that make it unique and differentiated, which stemmed from the contextual strengths of its audience across entertainment, music, culture, fashion and beauty, luxury, and parenting.

Creating unique audience segments

PMC then identified all the types of data it collects to create its data studio, ATLAS, and started by outlining the most used/requested segments and partnered with Permutive to build more in-depth segmentation. For example, PMC has a segment for music enthusiasts and segments for specific artists, genres, and decades. All of which help advertisers better understand and activate audiences.

Combining four data pillars

ATLAS Data Studio is built on four pillars of data sources – contextual, behavioural, proprietary, and enriched data. Using its first-party data, PMC can find the best audience possible to help partners meet their objectives, mirrored to the marketing funnel to deliver campaigns at all customer journey stages, including awareness, consideration, and conversion. Data enrichment enhances an advertiser targeting strategy and can include lookalike models that leverage ATLAS Data Studio’s first-party data to extend audiences across its networks​.

By combining all four of these pillars, PMC can activate its partners’ target audience with precision and activate the advertiser’s target audience in cookieless environments, unlocking 40% of the web that is invisible to advertisers.

  • 70%

    of impressions served with first-party data in 2022

  • 46%

    increase in revenue from first-party data in 2022

  • 5X

    increase in performance (CTR) in campaigns that only used first-party data

  • 5X

    increase in driving effective CPA for a clothing retailer when using PMC’s first-party data (SHE Media)


100% addressability

Via Permutive, PMC has access to more of its audience data to help them sell across the portfolio. This is due to the ability to address an audience regardless of consent status, whether traffic originated from a cookie-blocked browser, the ability to target on the first-page view (including passerby users or users who bounce quickly as soon as they arrive) and the ability to store data longer against particular cohorts via unlimited lookback windows, which solves for any cap on the scale of a publishers audience.

Moving from a vertical to a portfolio strategy

Permutive enabled PMC to move from a vertical to a portfolio strategy to better compete on scale. For example, instead of selling entertainment sites to entertainment advertisers, the company can use audience data to prove the audiences that advertisers want exist across all of its sites. This also resulted in sales teams moving from a specific vertical to a consolidated sales team to boost efficiency.

Delivering pre-sale and post-campaign insights

For presale analytics, PMC can create audience cards, developing collateral for each individual brand sales team in conjunction with the marketing team to capture each brand’s core audience. And provide revenue insights, including open and private marketplace bid data, by merging bid stream data with first-party data segmentation with the help of Permutive. This provides insights to sales teams on how buyers transact to drive more strategic partnerships.

Post-campaign, PMC can help advertisers understand the real individual behind each impression. As every user has interests that range much farther than just the page they’re on at that specific minute, the company can use ATLAS Data Studio to help partners get a holistic view of their target audience. “Permutive is helping PMC usher in a new era of advertising that helps us develop stronger relationships with advertisers,“ says Brett Goverman, Head of Data Strategy.

Empowering the sales organisation

A key step in taking Atlas Data Studio to market was ensuring that every commercial team across the organisation knew the value of its first-party data and that the sales team understood its unique selling proposition and why it mattered to advertisers.

With collateral help from Permutive, PMC set up training for each brand to cover the impact of cookie deprecation on advertising, the differences between first- and third-party data, what first-party data is available to, and why it drives value for partners.

Video: Hear from PMC on how they're driving value for advertisers via direct deals.

"With Permutive, PMC has the ability to do quick and in-depth analysis of our audiences and our performance to help our advertisers not only address and find their target audience but target them more effectively."

Brett Goverman, Head of Data Strategy, PMC