Peeking Behind the Curtain: Premium Publishers and Programmatic


May 19, 2014

As brands and agencies continue to buy more of their ad inventory through programmatic technologies, they are increasingly looking for data supporting more personalized, brand awareness campaigns, thereby increasing the demand for rich-media inventory and transparency. The question has moved from an “if” to a “how” premium publishers should embrace more programmatic selling. Matt Prohaska, Principal, Prohaska Consulting and former Programmatic Advertising Director at The New York Times sat down with PulsePoint at the Digiday Programmatic Summit and discussed his insights on publisher challenges with programmatic selling and how to surpass them on the road to greater fill rates and revenue.

Programmatic is still a new frontier for many. Communication and education are key steps to maximizing the value of programmatic selling. Top-down leadership must be willing to embrace programmatic in order to ensure buy-in across the company. Strategic partnerships with programmatic vendors and empowering ad ops teams as internal champions will help us all move passed the learning curve to reap the benefits.

Aligning direct and programmatic sales teams for one integrated and cross-trained team will drive revenue. There are certain advantages to a direct sales team and programmatic was never intended to replace that model. Integrating and cross training direct and programmatic sales teams should not be mutually exclusive. It is more valuable to bottom line earnings to have both teams compliment and augment the other.

Programmatic isn’t just static display and remnant. Brands seeking complex, high-impact units like rich media and video tended to fall under the purview of Publishers’ direct sales because the technology had not yet evolved to solve for manual integrations and testing. However, we’re no longer living in a banner world and brands are looking for high impact units programmatically. Publishers have an enormous opportunity to win brands. Through data insights and programmatic selling, publishers with high-value can increase revenue from previously unsold inventory opened up to the exchanges. Not only that but, increased channel competition will likely drive up all CPMs.

Programmatic selling can increase the value of inventory. Ad technology unlocks the proverbial ‘black box’ - making audience and content data attributes visible at the impression level for smarter targeting and insights. The more a buyer knows about an impression, the more valuable it becomes. Ad tech has built the pipes for transparency, which will be a major facilitator to increasing fill rates. More transparency is necessary across the board but especially within audience discovery. Buyers will purchase inventory if they understand the full value of an impression and how they can leverage these attributes to create real-time branding. Why? Because brands want to be able to differentiate. Providing insights on how are consumers are being targeted, which of audience & content segments are most popular, the price required to sell a certain page, website, channel, and what price will move the most inventory for a publisher will give more context & clarity around the bid process, so both demand & supply side are on the same page.

Technology platforms that sit in the middle are the most important piece for success – the industry needs dependable plumbing, but more importantly partners that understand the challenges & opportunities of programmatic to both sides of the ecosystem in an unbiased way. The bottom line is: Programmatic is here to stay. The only place to go is forward by starting to deal with its challenges to reach full potential.

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