Everyone Has A Monetization Platform For Publishers

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The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community. Receive The Sell Sider in your inbox twice a week by signing up for the email here, and selecting The Publisher Newsletter. 

Today’s column is written by Michael Persaud, director of programmatic advertising at Wenner Media.

The publisher-facing ad technology ecosystem continues to evolve. Spend a few months out of the loop and you'll return to a new world.

When given the responsibility of managing all "secondary" revenue sources, my team inadvertently was given the keys to the kingdom. We had to vet all new media platforms, SSPs, DSPs, DMPs, exchanges, networks and ad tech in-betweeners.

Once the word was out, we became the “go-to” contacts and were hit with a barrage of emails about new “game-changing” products. It started with a few pitches a week. Then it turned into a flood.

Out of necessity, we quickly became adept at evaluating platforms and answering some key questions. Where do you start? How do you evaluate the merits of cold-calling vendors? How do you test them?

Basic Advice For The Publisher

Make sure the vendor pitching you has a fully developed product. That includes having a working user interface with reporting. Don’t entertain solutions that aren't 100% ready for publisher.

Insist on a reference. Any sell-side vendor worth its salt should be able to provide a customer who can vouch for it. A reference also expands the network of ad platform experts with whom you can share intelligence about various products and services.

Drill down on ways the vendor's solution can fit within your current ad stack while providing true incremental revenue or competitive advantage. Chances are you are not going to kill an existing relationship based on the hope that an untested product performs better.

Cut short nonproductive meetings. Have a system to evaluate whether a vendor has done their homework. Did the vendor look at your web properties beforehand? Do they have a working knowledge of your existing toolset and tag architecture?

Once you’ve identified vendors you’d like to test, where do you put them and what should you expect?

For this I think it's important to create a reasonable testing environment that doesn’t severely affect your existing revenue stream. Also, lean on your fellow publisher, see what has worked for them and share your experiences. A little synergy never hurts.

Where To Test

Set aside inventory for testing. Settle on a site or section that won’t tank your current revenue if the test fails. Look for ways to get vendors competing on yield while keeping an eye on the big picture. Don’t mess with something that has performed well for something new that is of unproven value.

Try to test within your ad server. Having all partners in one place makes it easier to manage and allow for competition. Having partners above or outside of the ad stack may give an unfair advantage.

A passback is necessary when sending inventory to other ad servers or SSPs. When doing so, you have to pay an ad-serving fee each time, which can add up.Understand passbacks and the fees associated with sending impressions to multiple platforms.

Some Don’ts For Vendors

For vendors pitching publishers, don’t make these mistakes.

Don’t email over and over. Please be patient and conscious of the workload that your prospect is taking on. One or two follow ups are fine, but if you are not getting an answer after that, it's time to move on and revisit at a later time.

Don’t connect on LinkedIn. Choose one avenue for reaching out.

Don’t send long blanket emails.

Don’t “bash” other partners in the space. You could unknowingly jeopardize current and future relationships. Instead explain why your product is advantageous to the publisher’s business.

Don’t ask to be put first in the ad stack or outside of the ad server. Work on reasonable requests and understand that if the publisher has no experience with you, then it will take time to become an integral component in their ad stack.

Don’t ask for a commitment from the publisher. The publisher is the client, and with no previous experience with your product, the chances of commitment are slim.

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