Walled and Hedged Gardens: Definitions and Terminology

Published: January 9, 2023 by Kirsten Von Busch

Experian Automotive Hedged and Walled Garden in Marketing Measurement

Strategic automotive marketing and measurement are getting more complicated with the increase in consumer channels and devices. This makes it harder for marketers to obtain a complete measurement picture. Measurement terminology is also evolving. Here’s a look at some of today’s key definitions to familiarize you with the nuances and challenges it may already bring to your analytics.

What is the open web?

The open web is the web as a whole or the public side of the web with all the millions of sites that do not require a subscription or fee to use them. For example, in our industry, this would be an auto manufacturer’s website, a dealership’s website, or an online consumer shopping portal where you list your vehicles for sale – all of these are on the open web.

These sites use open-source standards to deliver content to consumers without a separate app or company acting as gatekeepers. However, tracking approaches on the open web will shift as cookies will eventually disappear.

What is a walled garden?

A walled garden is a closed platform or ecosystem (e.g., Amazon, Apple, Facebook) wherein the platform provider controls the content, applications, and/or media and restricts access as it sees fit. The publisher offers consumer privacy and rich first-party data to advertisers, but the measurement is limited to activity within the ‘walls’ of the garden. 

From an advertising perspective, buyers can only access these platforms through their own buying tools; they do not give access to any independent platforms. The publisher (the Walled Garden) handles all the buying, serving, tracking, and reporting within their ecosystem. 

So, let’s say you are an automotive consumer checking out vehicles. If you’re reading your Facebook feed on your phone and you see an advertisement for a vehicle or a dealership, that OEM or dealership is advertising in a walled garden – in this case, the walled garden is Facebook. The challenge to an advertiser is that they can only measure activity that occurred within that ecosystem using the walled garden’s platform and measurement tools.

What is a hedged garden?

The “hedged garden” is a new industry concept. A hedged garden is when a network of publishers work together to activate first-party data sets in a privacy-compliant way across many partners at scale.

These publishers run their businesses with large amounts of first-party consumer data. They often do not own or operate complete buying stacks. For example, companies like Target and Walmart let advertisers employ their data on shoppers for ad targeting, but brands can use their own buying tools.

Other examples of a hedged garden might include Connected TV platforms such as Vizio’s or Samsung’s in-house ad businesses. If you’re sitting on your couch watching your Vizio-connected TV and you see an advertisement for a dealership or a manufacturer, they are advertised within that hedged garden. 

As an advertiser, the advantage is that you can use their buying tool when targeting shoppers for your advertising.

How to fill in the gaps the walled garden may leave open

The walled garden can challenge marketers who desire cross-channel activation and measurement. If you’re a marketer working within a walled garden, we can work with the data you have to give you a complete picture of your audience’s digital journey. Our experience and vast databases, including vehicle, credit, and customer insights, allow us to continue building strong partnerships within the fast-growing (Hedged Garden) ecosystem. We can help. Our Subject Matter Expert, Laurel Malhotra will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Contact her today.

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