Hearst Digital Media to launch ad exchange

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A screenshot of ELLE.com, a Hearst Digital Media website
A screenshot of ELLE.com, a Hearst Digital Media website

Hearst Digital Media today announced it will be launching a private ad exchange, says the company's CRO Kristine Welker.

The Hearst Audience Exchange, which is so called because it is designed to help advertisers target specific audience segments, has been in the works for about nine months, Welker says. Hearst Digital developed it because brands and advertisers were, she says, clamoring for ways to better target consumers.

“Our editors have a tremendous amount of insight,” she says, adding that this is one aspect that makes ad buying from publishers unique. “They understand the reader or the user of our brands and their content.”

Audience Insights is designed to take those “editorial insights” and build them into targeted ad sales. It's programmatic buying, she says. Hearst Digital Media is made up of 25 different entities, including the websites for Marie Claire, Popular Mechanics, ELLE and Esquire.

“It's really about an audience strategy where we're focused on making brand dollars more efficient,” says Orchid Burnside, director of digital operations at Hearst Digital Media.

One way in which Hearst Digital will segment consumers is by their interests, Welker says. The company will begin testing this type of segmentation with readers and content users interested in food. Editors at Hearst zoned in on the fact that there are different types of food readers — dieters, entertainers and "time-savers," to name a few — and that those segments are most likely interested in seeing different ads, she says.

This type of targeting is the first part in a bigger strategy that will break out other groups identified by Hearst editors, Welker says. To segment its audience, Hearst will use Core Audience, a software as a service company that was acquired by iCrossing, a Hearst property, in 2011.

Welker says the ad exchange will be available in beta starting July 1, with a complete roll-out to advertisers during Q4.

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