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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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Purch, A Publisher Connecting With Consumers On Their Path To Purchase

Greg Mason PurchBecause advertisers are willing to spend the most at the last click before purchase, it’s where publishers can reap the highest rewards.

That’s the focus of publication family Purch – which rebranded from TechMediaNetwork in April and whose owned and operated sites include TopTenREVIEWS, Tom’s Hardware, Tom’s IT Pro, Laptop and Connectedly.

“We believe the web has very much been used by marketers as a performance medium,” said CEO Greg Mason, who has been at the helm for the past 18 months. “They’re interested in how they can target consumer intent. With product reviews, we attract in-market and intent consumers, and there is a high value associated with that.”

Collectively, Purch’s sites attract 78 million monthly uniques according to comScore, focusing on technology and science content, and drive $1 billion in sales a year. With an audience so close to the point of purchase, Purch benefits from higher-than-average CPMs and strong affiliate relationships. Next up is is strengthening its in-site commerce operations and strengthening its programmatic selling.

Purch And Programmatic

About half of Purch’s revenue comes from display ads, less than a quarter of which are direct-sold, according to Mason, leaving programmatic with a big piece of the pie. Since Purch’s ads are shown so close to the end of a buyer’s purchasing process, “they’re more likely to click on ads, so consequently we get higher CPMs for those ads than a publisher that doesn’t have intent,” Mason said.

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How Refinery29 Finds And Sells To Millennial Women

Destination Refinery29Refinery29 started out as a fashion blog, but it’s since expanded its vision: It plans to be the go-to source for millennials on the subjects of beauty, travel and points of view on subjects ranging from dieting to news coming from Ferguson, Mo.

It's also a high-growth company. The digital publication has 15 million monthly uniques, according  to Google Analytics data as well as its social following. A significant chunk of its traffic comes from what it calls “loyals,” people who visit Refinery29 nine days or more a month; loyals account for 40% of total users. Many of these loyals subscribe to Refinery29’s newsletter, so driving more people to the newsletter is a priority.

The next step for Refinery29 is looking for millennial women across the globe. It plans on opening shop outside the United States in the near future. It’s also expanding its advertiser base. Refinery29’s core of beauty and fashion brands is expanding to travel brands and advertisers like Home Depot, which is pursuing DIY women.

There’s still room for Refinery29 to grow at home, however. The United States has about 40 million millennial women. Refinery29 reaches 15 million of them, according to its visitor statistics, so “there is runway for another 50% growth,” estimated the company's CRO, Melissa Goidel. (more…)


Local Media Consortium Deal Enables Reach Extension Through Yahoo

Yahoo Local Media ConsortiumThe Local Media Consortium, a 55-member-strong organization of local media startups, newspapers and local television news websites, signed a three-year contract with Yahoo on Tuesday enabling reach extension through the Yahoo platform.

Members will also be able to take advantage of Yahoo’s targeting capabilities on behalf of their advertising clients.

“If you take a local dry cleaning business that wants to reach professional women under 30, I can only offer them so many of those targeted advertising clients through my own website,” said Rusty Coats, director of the Local Media Consortium. “By offering Yahoo inventory as well, I’m expanding that reach.” Members are not obligated to use Yahoo’s reach extension.

Many local media outlets also benefit from “exposure to great digital advertising sales practices, like ideas about selling audience and not product [and] how to structure sales teams,” Coats said. He anticipates Local Media Consortium members will also learn the ins and outs of native advertising: “[Yahoo] will help us not only to sell into native, but to learn how people are habituating to native.” (more…)


"It’s Like Steering A Rocket Ship:" President Greg Coleman On Joining A New Media Giant

Greg Coleman BuzzFeed“Remember, I’m on day five,” Greg Coleman said on Friday. The former president of Criteo, which went public earlier this year, recently hopped aboard BuzzFeed, where he’ll serve as president and on the board of directors. The switch reunites Coleman with many of his old co-workers at Huffington Post, including BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti.

Shortly after the hire, BuzzFeed raised $50 million from Andreessen Horowitz. Among other things, the money will help fund BuzzFeed’s nascent video business. Figuring out how to best organize sales for this video business will be part of Coleman’s job.

Also on the table is international expansion. “Today we have a large operation in London, and a smaller one in Germany and Australia. Part of my mandate from Jonah and the board is to go through the diagnostics around what countries we should be in, and how should we fund them (either alone or with a joint venture). This company has global legs, and we need to find countries that love what we do,” Coleman said.

Since his hire, he’s had a barrage of emails, and tweets congratulating him on his move. For someone that’s usually gone against the grain in his job choices, that makes him a little nervous. “When I left Reader’s Digest for Yahoo, right after the dot-com crash and the Internet blew up, everyone thought I was crazy. When I joined Huffington Post, everyone said, ‘Why are you joining this left-wing political blog?’ When I joined Criteo, everyone told me, ‘Why are you joining this company no one’s heard of?’ Then we took it public. So I’m a little nervous because everyone is saying this is a no-brainer, when everyone’s challenged my previous moves.” (more…)


Scripps Among Publishers Facing ‘Programmatic Headwinds’

CPMs publishers decliningThe shift to programmatic isn’t making things easier for Scripps, the media company behind properties like HGTV, The Food Network, and The Travel Channel.

Programmatic, difficulties monetizing mobile, and declining display revenues brought Scripps’ digital business down 5.3% year over year. Since digital accounted for just $27 million out of Scripps’ $684 million in revenue for the quarter, the company had a solid quarter overall, with total operating revenues up 6.5%.

“We're seeing some headwinds from programmatic buying” affecting digital revenues, President Burton Jablin told investors during the company’s Q2 earnings call Thursday.

Scripps is not alone in having difficulty adapting to programmatic. Other publishers that have cited issues with programmatic depressing average CPMs areThe New York Times, Meredith, Yahoo .

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People and EW Improve Engagement With Multiplatform Video

Gotham and Time Inc Mobile VideoAs mobile traffic grows, the stakes for advertisers also climb. This is especially true for a publisher like Time Inc., where mobile traffic increased 35% in six short months - from 39 million unique views in December to 53 million unique views in June.

As more traffic shifts to mobile, “being able to provide more value in the mobile space is key right now. With mobile, a client can have more than one opportunity to reach that user, and there is a lot of value there,” said Derek Gatts, associate director of advertising operations for Time Inc.

Recently, there was a problem. Time Inc. properties People and Entertainment Weekly (EW) wanted to enable entertainment clients to create, video-centric ad campaigns, but Apple’s iOS only allows autoplay video ads in-app, not on the mobile web.

“It’s a matter of engagement,” Gatts said “Immediately streaming a video without asking our user to leave the site automatically grabs their attention.” (more…)


AOL Is Reaping The Rewards Of Programmatic

AOL quote"Programmatic ads grew at over 100% year-over-year, and we're growing faster than the programmatic field overall," AOL CEO Tim Armstrong told investors looking over the company's second-quarter results. "Programmatic [ad revenue] has grown from 5% to 34% of our business in a year, which is part of a large industry shift and the biggest shift in the business in the past twenty years," he said.

Besides programmatic, better inventory pricing and video helped propel AOL's advertising higher. Display was up 9% year-over-year, search was up 6%. AOL's third-party platforms business, which includes AOL One, Adap.tv, Ad.com, as well as AOL's DSP and SSP, was the biggest beneficiary: Revenue was up 60% year over year.

AOL's better monetization of inventory suggests it is executing better than Yahoo, the other first generation digital publisher to which it is often compared. During its earnings call, Yahoo said it was struggling with declining CPMs as it tried to increase its premium inventory.

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OpenX Plays A Game Of Inches For SSP Supremacy

merging-demand-ssp-openxSupply-side platforms (SSPs) such as OpenX, Rubicon Project and PubMatic are under heavy pressure to increase value for publishers who pay a premium to use their technologies.

“The fact that SSPs are positioned on the sell side after much of the transaction value has been extracted by other intermediaries puts more pressure on their margins than buy-side players' experience,” said Andrew Frank, analyst at Gartner.

It’s in this environment that OpenX recently began pitching its updated SSP, which it says allows publishers to maximize their ad rates by combining real-time bidding (RTB) and ad network demand into a single, real-time auction.

Describing the new SSP as a “culmination of an acquisition plus two years of development work” following the company’s 2012 purchase of LiftDNA, Jason Fairchild, chief revenue officer of OpenX, said the goal was to allow the platform to “adhere to a marketplace model such that there is pricing pressure and full visibility across all demand channels.”

The concept of a single auction for multiple demand sources isn’t new – PubMatic’s Unified Auction, launched in 2010, combined demand from ad networks, RTB and direct sales to automatically sell and serve ads to the highest bidder. Google’s “dynamic allocation” is a similar concept, although it only works within Google’s ecosystem with DoubleClick for Publishers and Google Ad Exchange.

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