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5 Burning Buyer Questions About Programmatic, Answered!

Digiday

Digiday
March 26, 2015

When it’s bad, the buyer-seller relationship feels like something out of Divorce Court. Individual interests are the only interests, the two sides see as little of each other as possible and gentlemen’s agreements are just excuses to not get things in writing.

But like all healthy relationships, a little communication can go a long way in keeping both parties completely satisfied and working toward the same goals.

So in the spirit of transparency, we brought a handful of buyers to the table to clear the air on a very important topic: programmatic quality. Jen Witt, director of yield optimization at dating publisher Match Media, answers their questions about her approach to inventory, proprietary data and more below.

Is all your inventory available for programmatic? Or do you protect or lock some away behind IOs to safeguard yield?

— Anna Stoyanova, account director of programmatic EMEA, Essence

We allow our inventory to be sold programmatically based on an internal yield decisioning strategy. We don’t lock it up in the traditional sense where premium will automatically go first. But if it financially benefits us to do so, we will.

Locking up inventory could lead to suboptimal yield on the publisher side. But putting a lifetime value on a holistic direct relationship is difficult, so I can understand why some take this approach even if it results in short-term losses.

Our industry is very seasonal, so what we sell programmatically will depend greatly on inventory, user base regeneration and market demand. It’s important to understand how exchanges and PMPs value inventory and session depth and factor that into any decision on which impressions to sell programmatically.

Who do you prefer working with to sell premium programmatic inventory: trading desks or media planning agencies?

— Brian Nadres, director of programmatic media, The Media Kitchen

It depends on the company. Ultimately it benefits us to have a relationship with the actual decision makers which varies depending on the brand – it could be someone at the brand, agency or trading desk. Then we can set up reporting to monitor and optimize performance. It’s important to have relationships everywhere in the chain so you can easily troubleshoot issues, be they performance- or ad operations-related.

Can you offer additional value propositions (proprietary data overlays, CRM data, etc.) to entice more buyers to keep coming back for more programmatic buys?

— Stephanie Tom, supervisor of programmatic platform and operations NA, Essence

Our entire business is based on data. We don’t sell our data for external use, so the only way for a buyer to target someone based on our information is to purchase impressions across that user from us. And this is the primary use case for anyone purchasing a PMP on our inventory.

Do you partner with third-party vendors to gain deeper understanding of your inventory quality based on performance metrics like viewability, scroll speed and hover time?

— Vince Niou, supervisor of programmatic planning NA, Essence

We’ve partnered with multiple analytics vendors to understand everything about our user experience, including scrolling, viewability, user journey and pre/post site activity. Increasing viewability is a process; our site is primarily about user experience and subscription renewal, not ad experience.

We use the insights we’ve gained to create highly-viewable subsets of inventory that we can sell programmatically. Over time, we are working to make all of our placements above average in viewability.

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to selling quality premium inventory programmatically?

— Brian Nadres, director of programmatic media, The Media Kitchen

There can be a perception that all inventory in the exchange is late-session, less viewable or somehow of poor quality, and often we don’t get incoming questions from buyers to vet our inventory before purchase.

In my experience, there’s less of a communication gap in certain small markets by virtue of the fact that everyone knows everyone else. But for the US market, there are plenty of publishers who cite this as a consistent issue at every conference I attend.

We’d love the opportunity to educate them about what we put in the exchanges and what we can offer them in PMPs. That way, we can make the best decision for how to run their brands on our inventory.

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