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How TheStreet Blends Custom And Programmatic Sales

TheStreetFinancial advertisers tend to focus on performance advertising. They want people to fund a brokerage account or sign up for a new credit card.

But TheStreet, which attracts 40 to 50 million visitors a month at its sites, which include a namesake website, plus Stockpickr, The Deal and MainStreet, has noticed more interest in brand advertising.

“Ever since the trust broke down in [the financial crisis of] 2008, we’ve seen a shift towards branding,” said Patrick Dignan, VP of advertising sales for TheStreet. “There’s a re-education that’s going on, and they’re interested in using video and native to do this.”

To accommodate this shift, TheStreet has upped its investment in native and video. It just launched a sponsored-content program, BrandView, bringing in native technology provider Polar. Meanwhile, a video studio will produce more high-quality content aimed at educating investors – creating more video supply in the process. In one program for Oppenheimer, subject-matter experts from the investment firm created videos speaking to three themes, including how advisers work with affluent people. Efforts such as these have helped drive video revenue up 100% in the past year. 

Even as it adds upper-funnel offerings, TheStreet continues to respond to changes across the advertising ecosystem.

Programmatic

For instance, its programmatic revenue increased 80% over the past year. One brokerage company runs 100% programmatic with TheStreet. That allows the advertiser to target consumers using its data and enhances its attribution abilities, Dignan said.

Often, brand and programmatic will sit side by side on plans, something TheStreet facilitates by letting salespeople sell native and custom ad units and programmatic. “We have no channel conflict. I have sales team sell everything,” Dignan said. (more…)


New York Times Reports 17% Revenue Growth, Cites Advances In Native And Programmatic

NYT imageDigital revenue rose 17% in Q3 at The New York Times. During the same time period, digital subscriptions rose 20%.

But overall revenue rose just 1% for the quarter -- anemic growth, though The New York Times spun it as good news, since digital increases almost offset declines in print. (earnings release)

“Smartphone, tablet, and video, taken together, are now a significant reason why we turned what was a revenue stream that was in slight decline that is now a revenue stream growing healthily,” said Times CEO Mark Thompson.

The gap between consumer usage on mobile and ads on mobile remains. Only 10% of digital revenue comes from mobile. In the past year, though, mobile increased from one-third of user sessions to over half of user sessions, said EVP of advertising Meredith Kopit Levien.

The Times mentioned ways it’s working to close that gap.

Paid Posts, which launched in January and attracted 30 clients so far, “was meant for the mobile world,” Levien said.

The Times launched mobile ad units, and is still experimenting with frequency and type of creative to find what works best on mobile. The publisher created a “full-screen, self-propelled, tappable story” designed to be viewed and monetized in the mobile market.

“Mobile is still small for us. We’re eager to put innovative product in the marketplace to move [that gap] closer together,” Levein said.

Levein said the company has made advances in the programmatic space, though she noted it’s still a small part of The Times’ business. (more…)


Remedy Health Pairs Data With Emotional Content

Health CentralWhen targeting ads and content, health publisher Remedy Health Media, whose network of sites attract 16 million unique visitors a month, faces greater challenges than most digital publishers.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) contains a privacy rule regulating the use of consumer health data, making it more difficult to personalize content and target advertising. The FDA regulates the messaging of the pharmaceutical companies that are the majority of Remedy Health’s advertisers.

But despite those challenges, Remedy Health has moved into two areas of innovation among publishers: sponsored content and data-segmented selling.

Sponsored Content

 Combining data with emotion is a key part of the way Remedy Health’s site HealthCentral.com positions itself in the market, explained CRO Jim Curtis. “Content has to strike a chord before the data means anything,” he said.

HealthCentral, the most heavily trafficked site in the Remedy Health family (which includes wellness site BerkeleyWellness.com and HIV/AIDS resource TheBody.com), collects inspirational stories from patients who are also experts about their conditions.

Because of FDA regulations, HealthCentral has a unique native advertising strategy.

“You can’t do native advertising anywhere without a long medical review,” Curtis said. “Pharmaceutical companies are less likely to use the most innovate tactics to speak to patient base, because it hasn’t been vetted through the FDA or approved.”

The editorial team creates a personal story, which brands can exclusively sponsor, about the conditions HealthCentral covers every year.

When HealthCentral created a graphics-heavy, multimedia piece about a mountain climber who almost died from Crohn’s disease, it supplemented the story with banner ads from Humira, which produces a Crohn’s medication. (more…)


Digital Publishers Push Custom Advertising Ahead Of Display

XoGroupPublishers looking for new digital dollars have homed in on native and custom advertising packages. These initiatives, more than programmatic, served as the focus for the MediaNext conference Monday through Wednesday in New York City, where the publishing community convened to discuss the status of integrated marketing campaigns.

“More advertisers are separating their budgets, with 50% on programmatic and 50% on programs that are about social engagement or search engagement. We’re going after the non-programmatic budgets,” said Ryan Harwood, CEO of lifestyle publication PureWow.

Many publishers saw far more value in leveraging their social media followers, and in-house content team to develop custom offerings like games, sponsorships and custom creative. Display ad boxes and rectangles exist, but often are tacked on to add accountability to formats that still don’t have deep analytics.

“What I’m seeing in the market is the low hanging fruit display dollars are going toward programmatic,” Harwood said.

Canadian publisher Jobpostings underwent a dramatic shift to accommodate the changing needs of advertisers. “Five years ago it was so simple,” said publisher Nathan Laurie, “You’d sell a full page, half page, or quarter page.”

These days Jobpostings ads go beyond a box. “Our packages have turned into sales that involve content online, done by our writers, similar to native advertising, and social media integration. We’re marketing the web, and giving the print away for free,” Laurie said. (more…)


AARP Turns To Krux To Act On Its First-Party Data

Krux AARPBecause AARP serves a specific demographic – people over 50 – the magazine has long understood just how valuable it was to provide advertisers with a segmented audience.

But within that age bracket, there is incredible diversity of segments that the AARP knew would provide value to advertisers. So the team decided to use Krux to build its data-management platform (DMP), which would run across AARP The magazine section and aarp.org as a whole.

Through Krux, the AARP could create segments on the site and offer advertisers audience extension. Internally, the site could use the platform to boost membership.

Since AARP implemented Krux more than a year ago across aarp.org, the average CPM of run-of-site placements doubled with the audience data from the DMP added in. The site's investment in Krux’s software gave it a return six times over.

Key to the success was the ability for the AARP to leverage its offline data, which had subscribers’ birthdays, household income, gender and other demographic data provided by the user.

The Advertiser Advantage

“Advertisers crave finding quality, declared demographic data,” said Mike Moreau, chief solutions officer of Krux. “A lot of the third-party data available is inferred. In the AARP’s case, you have people saying: ‘This is my birthday.’”

Krux enables AARP to combine that offline data with other behavioral data that might take place on the site, as well as third-party data Krux brings in from other providers. That gives advertisers plenty of options for how to use audience targeting. (more…)


Say Media CEO: Media Companies Will Live Or Die By Content Platforms

Matt Sanchez SAY MEDIA NEWThe best way for publishers to survive these days may be to become technology companies.

“Media businesses will win because of their content platform strategies,” predicted Say Media CEO Matt Sanchez.

Say Media is both a technology provider and publisher of numerous online magazines including xoJane, ReadWrite, Remodelista, xoVain and Not Impossible Now. As a vendor, it’s known for its publishing platform Tempest, which enables publishers to create more engaging content and ad units to drive better engagement.

The platform also offers rich data and attention metrics. “Bringing everything together into one stack gives you better control and insight,” Sanchez said.

Those insights bolster the advertising and editorial sides: “We’re telling advertisers they need to think more like publishers,” said Sanchez. “Tools that make better content can also make better advertising.”

Say Media plans to use its technology platform to build a broader advertising network. Tempest, which is free for publishers, runs on five sites not owned by Say Media: Beauty Editor, House of Brinson, LifetimeMoms, BIO and Fashionista.

In exchange, Say Media manages all the sites’ unsold inventory. Advertisers who buy one of Say Media’s custom, high-impact ad units can distribute that to a broader network of sites running on Tempest.

Sanchez talked to AdExchanger. (more…)


Rubicon’s Ad Engine Aims To Help Publishers Make The Most Of What They’ve Got

directdealPublishers looking to maximize their yield need to think more like buyers. 

With that goal in mind, Rubicon Project unveiled Ad Engine on Thursday, a beta feature running in its Seller Cloud with NewsCorp as a launch partner. Although Rubicon hasn’t released an official date for when the product will made made generally available, Josh Turner, director of product management for Seller Cloud, said he’s looking at Q1 2015 or “perhaps earlier if we feel like it’s ready.”

Ad Engine aims to go beyond mediation to help publishers optimize revenue across the breadth of their inventory by allowing them to do their own trading and set up their own direct advertising deals in addition to programmatic buys, which they could do already. 

The impetus for this feature came from a trend Kaylie Smith, head of Rubicon Project’s Seller Cloud, started seeing several years ago – mostly in Europe – in which publishers attempted to optimize performance by slapping together two or three different demand-side platforms (DSPs) that weren’t necessarily purpose-built to support the publisher community. 

“A lot of what they picked off the shelf they had to cobble together with sticky tape and rubber bands to make it work,” Smith said. “It’s something that we’ve seen accelerate in the US this year. We built a platform to meet that market need.”

(more…)


B2B Publisher Chooses A DMP To Serve Readers And Advertisers Alike

Cxense Sift MediaSift Media, publisher of such websites as Accountingweb.co.uk and HRZone.co.uk, wanted to use data to create better experiences for the reader and better results for its advertisers. It found its technology match in Cxense, which offers audience data management and analytics geared to the publisher.

“It was the first solution [we came across] that came from a publisher perspective, and not an advertising perspective,” said Ian Robins, head of marketing for Sift Media.

Cxense wasn’t even among the top two finalists during Sift Media’s year-long search for a data-management platform (DMP), said Robins. But when the team finally met Cxense, it was impressed by the platform's ability to apply audience insights to both user and advertiser experiences on its properties. The team was sold and started implementing Cxense about two months ago.

The team started with two initial goals: “First, being able to deliver relevant content to each individual based on what they do on the site. Second, understanding our anonymous audience more, so we can develop a highly targeted advertising strategy that will give our advertisers better results,” Robins said.

On the reader side, Cxense supplies content widgets designed to facilitate deeper engagement with Sift Media content. Based on a viewer’s reading history, it will surface articles that fit with the reader profile, or are logical follow-ups to the story being read. It can also create modules that show top stories.

“Right now, our sites are more interruptive. We want to clean up our sites to create a smaller, more compelling environment. For the brands we work with, that’s a more effective way for them to get higher conversions,” Robins said. In some cases, that will even involve removing ad slots to give a cleaner, less cluttered experience for the reader. (more…)


Down With Excel! The Globe and Mail Streamlines Yield Management

Globe and MailCanadian newspaper The Globe and Mail can forecast revenue and optimize yield across its direct-sold and programmatic inventory, using a partnership between yield management firm Yieldex and ad tech company AppNexus.

When the publisher signed up with Yieldex at the beginning of the year, it didn’t support AppNexus until The Globe and Mail requested it, said the periodical’s digital revenue manager, Michael Hagley.

Optimizing yield management had been a point of interest for the newspaper. Getting visibility into average pricing in different sections or the parts of the site that routinely sold out used to be a long, manual process.

“In the past, we had to get impressions from the ad server, pull it out into Excel, then log into SSP (supply-side platform), run similar reports and do a matching exercise,” Hagley said. “It was labor-intensive and it wasn’t very visible.”

With the new system, The Globe and Mail can see revenue and impressions from both the “premium ad server” which has direct-sold impressions, and the performance supply platforms, which has programmatically sold impressions. “We can bring all the digital revenue that we bring from multiple sources into a single interface, and now how the full business is performing at any time,” Hagley said. (more…)


Programmatic I/O: Publishers Meredith, Yahoo And AOL On The Future Of Open Auctions

Publisher FiresideDo open auctions have a future? It depends which publisher you ask. According to executives from Meredith, Yahoo and AOL, who spoke at the Programmatic I/O Conference on Wednesday, change is coming.

“It won’t live on” in its current form, said Meredith’s VP of programmatic sales and strategy, Chip Schenck. “Because it’s used and thought of as a remnant marketplace. There will be the choice for sellers to not play there because their yield is better in other places," such as private marketplaces.

But even then, he said, "Private marketplaces are just a stop on the way to something else."

“More inventory is going private,” said Yahoo’s Dennis Buchheim, VP of programmatic product management. “Initially, it started out a way for publishers to make that inventory available and for advertisers to be comfortable buying RTB. My question is, there is always a backbone of marketplace – what comes next to private marketplace is interesting, because it’s only scalable to a point.”

AOL Platforms CTO Seth Demsey said open auctions are here to stay. “Yes. I see continued life for the open exchange environment. It comes down to monetization strategy, which is multitiered, multifaceted, with different layers of cake. There’s constant tweaking and tuning.”

Just what that tweaking and tuning will be was subject to a debate that continued in the green room after the on-stage chat. (more…)