Grow is First Party Data. Newsletter Signups Are Not.

woman wearing jeans and a green sweater holding a photo with the grow.me logo on a phone

Last week, Mediavine announced Grow.me, our solution for content creators to control first-party data in an ever-changing industry.

This is a long article, but here are the key takeaways:

  • Grow.me is not a substitute for email subscriptions.
  • Grow.me is Mediavine’s solution for publishers to collect first-party data and maximize programmatic ad revenue in a post-third-party cookies world.
  • The power of Grow.me relies on users logging in and privately and securely authorizing consent; Grow.me is a framework that entices readers to do so.
  • With newsletters, readers did not consent to the use of their email addresses for any other purpose.
  • Newsletters represent a small portion of traffic; Grow.me aspires to authenticate a larger portion of traffic.
  • After hearing your feedback, we’re already exploring opt-in solutions that will allow us to legally, securely share reader email addresses with publishers.
  • Opt-in today in your Mediavine Dashboard! Grow.me will help you earn more now from iOS users (Safari already ended third-party cookies) and all users down the road.
Grow.me beta opt-in screenshot

We’ll explain each of these points in detail below.

Grow.me is Not a Replacement For Your Newsletter

During our September 17 Facebook Live, a few publishers asked why Grow.me does not make publisher-owned email newsletters the crux of our first-party data solution.

If you want to continue collecting opt-ins and sending out newsletters after running Grow.me, please do. Our plan is not to fully replicate the functionality of these kinds of products.

Grow.me is here to help you build first-party data for the future of your business, not simply collect email opt-ins and send newsletters.

These two are fundamentally different things for a few reasons, outlined below:

Graphic comparing newsletter and Grow.me

Ultimately, Grow.me is a privacy-first solution for first-party data.

As such, it’s critical that we establish the value exchange with the reader, otherwise we’re part of the problem.

Readers sign up for Grow.me in order to receive personalized content, ads and value from your website. In signing up, they explicitly consented to providing their email address and information for this purpose.

When users sign up for your newsletter, they are not providing that consent. They simply provided an email address in exchange for a newsletter periodically arriving in their inbox.

That was the proposed value exchange they agreed to.

Can you change your newsletter signups or Grow.me to achieve both of these goals? Yes, but more on that later. There are still issues with using newsletter signups, even if it collects consent for personalized ads.

Newsletters are Unverified Traffic

The methods of identifying users who sign up for a newsletter via a box on your site, or arrive via a newsletter, are what’s called unverified or untrusted authentication in the industry.

You don’t know if the person actually owns that email address, in the case of a reader signing up and even if they came from an inbox, you have no way of knowing if it was from a forwarded email. You didn’t authenticate it was that user’s.

Neither of those sources are verified and authenticated, and as a result, newsletters do not go far enough. They are not first-party data. Grow.me is about building trust not just with your users, but also advertisers.

woman on laptop at a restaurant

Why You Need Both Newsletters and Grow.me

Authenticating users via newsletter is not only unverified, we’re likely only talking about a small portion of your traffic, even if your newsletter is how you reach some of your most loyal users.

With Grow, we’re not trying to replace or devalue the newsletter, but solve the issue of user consent for a larger percentage of traffic.

Our initial goals with Grow.me are lofty, but we’re hoping for 10-20% of your traffic to be verified over time.

That’s enough to make a material difference. The greater percentage of inventory you can authenticate, the greater your revenue impact.

woman in light blue shirt looking at a smartphone on a couch in her home

We made the decision to architect Grow.me so that it’s privacy-first, and therefore a legitimate and lasting solution.

We want audiences to feel safe when they log into Grow.me on your site and want to stay logged in across the web.

Imagine if you were logged in to Twitter and every account you followed on that platform suddenly had access to your email address, which they could sell or use to bombard you with spam.

The world would quickly lose trust in that system, and for good reason. This is a serious matter, which is why we’ve built Grow the way we have.

Our goal is to build Grow to be a seamless experience across tens of thousands of sites. We want to make it incredibly easy and low friction to have users stay logged in across the web.

If we simply shared that email with every site a user visited, we couldn’t have that same experience if we wanted to keep data security and privacy at the forefront.

In short, yes, there is definitely a world where Grow.me can help sign up users for your newsletter AND collect first party data.

Unlike the pure newsletter solution, Grow.me could collect authenticated, verified emails and securely transmit them to you.

In this scenario, Grow.me would require users to log in and specifically consent to sharing their email with you.

It’s definitely possible, and something we are considering on our roadmap after feedback from our Live.

The truth is, Grow.me is a beta for this reason. We need to work with you, our publishers, to determine the best experience for your readers.

Grow.me is designed to be the framework that helps you build first-party data and navigate this changing industry.

It’s important you do so now. First, because the longer you build first-party data, the better off you’ll be when third-party cookies are gone. You’ll also make more money today with Safari and Firefox traffic.

Secondarily, Grow.me needs your feedback.

So please, opt in today. It’s right there in your Mediavine Dashboard. Together, let’s build a sustainable solution for a free and open web for a long time to come.

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