The deal is noteworthy because it suggests Google is making some progress in diversifying its video supply beyond YouTube. Google, through a spokesperson, declined to comment specifically on this possibility, stating: “We don't disclose how any given publisher affects our inventory mix.”
For NDN, the deal is a reaction to a trend toward programmatic buys for online video. “We’re watching the industry moving to a programmatic marketplace and being very tightly integrated into one is very important,” said Eric Orme, NDN’s CTO and COO, detailing why NDN chose this moment to work with Google DFP.
NDN, he added, aspires to do more than simply monetize video natively for its partners; it wants to integrate deeply into an exchange environment and transact business the way trading desks and media agencies require.
The other reason NDN signed on with DFP is because it hopes to save its publisher partners money. “Our publishers look to us to see how they can reduce cost and increase revenue across their whole site,” Orme said.
NDN, which purports to have 49 million monthly unique viewers, and which comScore ranked fifth in December’s top US online video properties, curates video content from a number of creators, including AP, Bloomberg and Fox Sports, and syndicates that content among publishers including New York Daily News and the Los Angeles Times. It splits the revenue, derived entirely through advertising, among the three parties: NDN, the content creator and the publisher.
NDN’s deal with Google marks a shift in the way the video platform works with advertisers. While the company had partnered with ad servers like FreeWheel, Adobe’s Auditude and SpotXchange (NDN still works with the latter), it was focused exclusively on video. Google, Orme said, can handle video, display and mobile.
“We can do all that in one place and have access to the Ad Exchange," he said. "We can set up our private direct-programmatic deals as well as indirect. It makes it way more efficient. It’s a tighter integration than what you get with third-party exchanges.”
While NDN maintains staff dedicated to direct sales, with employees in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and soon Chicago (Orme declined to reveal the exact size of NDN’s direct sales team), the influence of programmatic has altered its sales structure.
Direct sales tend to offer greater yield than indirect, which typically is used to backfill inventory. But Orme pointed out the advent of programmatic has introduced a new team, beyond the sales staff and ad traffickers NDN typically used: yield optimization.
“We can see what happened in real time, and make adjustments to price floors and change who we’re doing what with,” he said. “It gives us great transparency in the whole buying and selling world. We’re seeing more and more where this year we’ll be setting up private exchange deals, working with agencies and trading desks directly in an exchange format versus the legacy IO process. We’re seeing direct and indirect processes coming together because of programmatic.”
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