Data is everywhere. It’s in our homes and our workplaces, on our TV screens and on the websites we visit. As big data impacts every facet of our day-to-day lives, businesses are leaning more and more on data and data analytics to drive key decisions. For publishers, the huge influx of big data has created both enormous opportunities and sizable challenges. With so much data coming in, it is difficult to identify what matters and what doesn’t. While every publisher recognizes the importance of audience data, for instance, fewer are harnessing data to learn more about their advertisers’ buying behavior.

Before we go further, a disclaimer: advertising spend data alone cannot drive new business. This fact explains why publishers focus more on audience behavior and not much or at all on advertiser data. However, what advertising spend data can do is unlock critical insights that help your sales team uncover opportunities you might otherwise be missing. The advertising spend supply is inherently limited, and as the competition to capture that spend continues to heat up, harnessing spend data from advertisers is only going to become more important.

Here are a few things I have learned about advertising spend data from some of the world’s leading publishers.

1. The silos must come down

When a large publisher in the U.S. sought to revamp the lead generation strategy of its advertising department, it started with advertiser data analytics. The company loaded three years of historical booking information for each of its advertisers into a centralized sales system, spanning its entire portfolio. Consolidating this data into a single repository enabled the publisher to analyze booking information from hundreds of publications – each of which was historically operating and interfacing independently with customers. As I shared in my recent blog on “How To Kick-start a Winning CRM Strategy,” the consolidated view of bookings and sales performance provided the publisher’s data analytics team with new insights into their business. Suddenly, the analytics team the ability to run lead generation queries such as:

  • Show me all advertisers that spent more than $10k in 2017 but only in one regional title
  • Show me all advertisers who are spending more than $10k in three or more print publications, but not spending any money in digital
  • Show me all advertisers that spent more than $30k in the largest daily, but have not spent any money in a regional title

Lead generation concepts such as these, and hundreds more, proved to be immediately impactful for this media company. The publisher was able to create immediate leads in the CRM system for their sales team to chase. Additionally, sales management was able to monitor which sales reps followed up on the leads, and how effective they were at closing the deals. Not only is this media company now able to act in real time on the business intelligence they are gleaning from their advertiser spend data, but they also achieved a four percent increase in digital ad revenue last year as a direct result of this strategy.

2. Third party data + your data = a happy marriage

In today’s media industry, trends move fast. There is new competition arriving on the scene every single day, as well as major innovation within existing competitors. To stay ahead, you need to connect with your advertisers in a whole new way. At Lineup Systems, our savviest customers are taking their data analytics practices to the next level by importing Nielson, TNS, and other third-party advertising spend data into their media sales solutions. This combination of in-house data and third-party data has allowed our clients to answer crucial questions. How much money are their advertisers spending with them versus their competitors? How much money are their customers spending on advertising, period? 

These insights deliver several crucial benefits, enabling our clients to: 


  • Analyze what percentage they are selling against in each market segment. In any segments where our clients find they are performing more than five percent behind their competitors, they can generate leads for all their sales reps with advertisers in those segments. This process helps these clients go after new advertisers and close the sales gap.
  • See all advertisers that spent more than 10 percent with their top three competitors in the last three months. These types of data analytics allow our clients to see any accounts where they are underperforming by a considerable margin. If a client is underperforming by this margin, our system generates a lead for the sales rep assigned to the account in question.
  • Use ad performance studies to show that your titles reach a better audience with better response rates than your competitors. Looking at ad performance studies provides a holistic view of what, where, and when a client’s customers are spending. Many publishers have had big wins by focusing on this data. For instance, a leading Danish publisher recently implemented a system that brought in daily advertising spend data from a third-party competitor. Every morning, the publisher’s sales team would start the day by reviewing each ad campaign initiated the day before. If the publisher was not already involved in a campaign, they would contact the advertiser and try to steal the advertising budget for the remainder of the campaign. The client ultimately achieved a 20 percent win rate with this strategy.

To simplify the process, the Danish publisher grouped all of the previous day’s ad campaigns into three groups:

  • Campaigns that were spending only with them
  • Campaigns that were spending partly with them
  • Campaigns not spending with them at all

For all the campaigns the publisher was not involved in at all, their sales system would generate a lead. The company’s three-person sales team would then work to get involved in the campaign. They knew they had nothing to lose by contacting the advertisers. The revenue in question was money the publisher would have missed out on completely without the insights provided by third-party data analytics.

Lineup also recently worked with third-party data at a Swedish newspaper publisher. This publisher had launched a new jobs website and wanted to gain a competitive sales edge for the platform. To generate sales leads, their IT team created a tool that grabbed data from the top three job websites in Sweden –their biggest competitors. Any time a job was posted on a top competitor’s website, the publisher would reach out to the person or company that had posted the position. This simple sales tactic delivered a 30 percent conversion rate and helped grow the publisher’s new jobs site.

3. A company that isn’t selling is dying

It may sound melodramatic, but a company with a shrinking “ad pie” is often a company in decline. Tomorrow’s leaders will be those who succeed in sales today. The publisher of one of Britain’s most popular newspapers understands this point and uses the power of data analytics and advertising spend data to keep its sales force engaged. The organization collects and analyzes sales data in real time, using the data to keep sales representatives aware of:

  • Customers that are increasing spend and/or diversifying across titles and channels
  • Customers that need attention due to lowered spend
  • Customers bouncing up and down in annual spend
  • Their overall sales performance against their target

Thanks to Lineup, all this information is available on a performance dashboard within the organization’s CRM, which pulls data in real time from the company’s centralized sales system.


Just a few years ago, it would have been radical to suggest that advertising spend data was the future of the media industry. The claim flew in the face of the audience-focused approach that most publishers had followed for many years. But the landscape has changed at a rapid pace, and today advertising spend data is proving to be the key to unlocking insights that inform your sales strategy and fuel new revenue generation. Today, success within a media business hinges on the organization’s ability to turn data analytics into actionable information and rapidly react to this information to make more informed business decisions. Focusing on advertiser data is the best way to achieve these actionable insights.