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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.”

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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…)


The Daily Dot: A Peek Under The Hood Of A New Media Publication

Daily DotIn three years, Daily Dot, an online publication focusing on Internet-related issues, has grown from zero to 10 million monthly unique visitors.

The site’s monthly uniques are up 3.5 times year over year, growth the site says outpaces the third year of Gawker, BuzzFeed and Thought Catalog. If you ask CEO Nick White and CTO Zach Richardson why, they’ll have the same answer: editorial.

Behind every page, however, is the kind of technical prowess that seems to be second nature to digital native publications.

Daily Dot’s skyrocketing traffic puts in the company of other fast-growing websites like BuzzFeed and Upworthy, though still has just a fraction of those sites’ monthly traffic. White and Richardson want to increase its traffic through old-fashioned journalism, and are quick to distinguish Daily Dot from “paper-clip solutions” in the marketplace that aggregate instead of sending reporters out in the field.

Daily’s Dot aims for depth. Where one publication aggregates tweets on a trending hashtag, like #FeministsAreUgly, Daily Dot aims to get to the source. While other publications assumed that particular hashtag was created by Internet trolls, the Daily Dot’s editorial team figured out it was created by two feminists. (more…)


Jump-Starting Programmatic Sales At Edmunds.com

data drivers seat edmundsFrom a certain point of view, it's surprising car-shopping site Edmunds.com took the plunge into programmatic selling at all.

During the annual upfronts, much of its inventory sells out, including homepage placements, sponsorships, key sections and so-called "conquest" opportunities. Car manufacturers and dealerships prize the inventory because more than half of those browsing the site end up buying a car, according to a study by Datalogix.

In short, Edmunds' management hardly knows the meaning of "remnant," but management took the plunge into programmatic anyway, starting in April, because it believed clients would spend more if they could apply their own first-party data to its audience.

“Advertisers were looking for automated solutions, and had a desire to overlay data and use that to buy media. We decided to launch a test, because we knew where the industry was going,” said Jennifer Dodez, director of programmatic solutions for Edmunds.com.

In November of last year, Edmunds.com began testing private exchange functionality. In April it expanded that program, with the goal of supplementing its direct buys with data-driven exchange deals. Google’s DoubleClick Ad Exchange (AdX) and Rubicon power all programmatic deals, which can be open, preferred or private.

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How The Huffington Post Does Native

Tessa GouldFew publishers can match the scale and reach of The Huffington Post’s 86 million monthly global uniques.

The AOL-owned property also has a highly international and social audience, said Tessa Gould, senior director of native advertising at the HuffPost Partner Studio. The studio, created last June, helps brands conceptualize, execute and evaluate native campaigns. “Being at the front page for one day gets up to 4 million page views.”

Brands can do native campaigns in ten different countries. “Not only do we have this organic scale and reach, if an advertiser wants further reach, we can syndicate content through AOL-owned and operated properties.”

The Huffington Post has been doing native advertising since 2010, and created the HuffPost Partner Studio to create and manage these campaigns a little over a year ago. Its creation helped native advertising skyrocket.

From Q2 2013 to Q2 2014, The Huffington Post’s native advertising revenue grew 347%. But it’s also still new: Gould estimated that more than 50% of the clients it works with are first-timers.

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