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Publishers Need To Help Brands Move Beyond The CTR

jeffbandersellsiderThe Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today's column is written by Ephraim Bander, president and chief revenue officer at Sticky.

For brand advertisers, clicks don’t count. But not all brand marketers are ready to accept that reality.

Clickthrough rate (CTR) is among the worst measures of the efficacy of a digital, brand-focused ad. It simply does not reflect the big picture of the consumer experience. Publishers know this, but it’s time they educated their brand advertisers about it.

For every brand-based ad that a consumer clicks, there are probably hundreds that she does not. This doesn’t mean she didn’t see them or isn’t aware of the brand that she just saw; she just chose not to click or to act at that time. The key word here is “chose.” If someone who sees an ad makes a conscious decision not to click, that still means she saw the ad and responded accordingly, even if, in this case, it was by choosing not to act.

Take, for example, a nationally known consumer brand like Coca-Cola or a fast food chain like McDonald’s. Since nobody can buy a two-liter Diet Coke or a Quarter Pounder with cheese online, the odds that a consumer will feel a pressing need to click these ads are pretty slim. But that doesn’t mean she didn’t see them. It doesn’t mean the brands aren’t now at the top of her mind and that she won’t stop at McDonald’s on her way home from the grocery store, where she bought a few bottles of Diet Coke. Just because she didn’t click doesn’t mean she wasn’t motivated to make these purchases because of her exposure to the ad.


How Publishers Are Seeing The Light On Ad Blindness

gregmasonsellsideThe Sell Sider is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today's column is written by Greg Mason, CEO at Purch.

Move over, programmatic and native. Ad fraud and viewability have become the two biggest buzzwords in the digital advertising industry.

At the center of both is the issue of being seen. In a nutshell, ads need to be seen – by actual people – for ROI and engagement to occur. Makes sense, right?

Candidly, though, seeing an ad isn’t the industry’s problem. There real issue is “ad blindness,” the tendency for audiences to completely ignore ads, even if they’re clearly visible. Last year, 60% of consumers said that they weren’t able to remember what the last online ad they saw was about, while 80% of those who did remember said the ad wasn’t relevant to them.

So having an ad that’s viewable to people – not bots – is great. But if it’s just ignored, what’s the point?

In the late ’90s, when the term was first coined, ad blindness was largely caused by the fact that ads were literally too small to be seen. When the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, the industry got serious about creating ads with more impact, and so larger, more creative-centric new formats were born.


Vox Media Embraces Programmatic For Its Scaled-Up Audience

Joe Purzycki Vox MediaTwo years is a long time for online publisher Vox Media. In that span, the owner of seven editorial sites – including The Verge, SB Nation, Eater and Polygon – went from eschewing programmatic to embracing it.

Vox’s strategy changed because its sites grew, explained Joe Purzycki, Vox Media’s VP of advertising.

Vox totaled 20 million monthly uniques two years ago. Today it has 150 million global uniques, and has added four additional sites.

The demographics of Vox shifted with that growth. The target audience used to be 18- to 34-year-old males. Now, the gender split is narrowing, although the brand still indexes unusually high in education and household income. That broader audience created the need for Vox to start using a data-management platform and sell advertising based on its first-party data.

Purzycki talked to AdExchanger about the changes Vox has undergone in its monetization strategy over the past couple of years and what’s ahead.

AdExchanger: Why has Vox embraced programmatic, when two years ago it was so firmly in the direct sales camp?

JOE PURZYCKI: At that time, we had just introduced [gaming site] Polygon, and were still focused on that male 18-34 audience. We had a smaller audience, and our direct sales efforts were driving our business.

Today, given size of audience and amount of inventory, programmatic is a growing piece of our strategy. We still rely heavily on direct sales, which is where the majority of revenue is coming from.

We pair our direct efforts with our programmatic efforts. That can be through private exchanges, if that’s what our clients want to do. Or, if our direct team is selling larger sponsorships or branded content series, with those larger formats that aren’t available through programmatic yet, we work with clients to do both that and buy fluid media through programmatic channels to support their direct sales buy. (more…)

Dynamic Price Floors Perpetuate An Ad Stack Cold War

willdohertyThe Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Will Doherty, senior director of business development at Index Exchange, a division of Casale Media Inc.

The jig is up. And it’s been up for a long while. It’s time to move past dynamic floors.

They simply have no place in the current programmatic ecosystem. They are shortsighted and deny publishers the opportunity to work closely with their clients – many of whom are gearing up for a programmatic-only future. You’re not simply short-changing a bidder by deploying dynamic floors, you’re hindering your ability to support accurate price discovery for buyers. If they can’t price it, they won’t buy it. More importantly, any effort to obscure the value or credibility of any given impression – to represent it as something it’s not – is deceptive.

Dynamic floors, or “soft floors,” allow publishers to create artificial market density in order to drive up the cost of a given impression. In any open exchange, buyers only expect to pay slightly more than the next highest bid. If a buyer bids $2 and the next highest bid is $1.50, most auction mechanics would sell that impression to the buyer at $1.51. When a dynamic floor is introduced into this equation, the SSP will create “phantom demand” that would price the bid at $5 as if that demand actually existed. That figure now represents the high end of the auction. But since it doesn’t exist, the SSP will sell that impression to the buyer at $2, since it is the highest bid below the dynamic floor of $5. This is an artificial price increase of nearly 33% for the buyer.


What Does The Future Hold For Automated Guaranteed?

richardjalichandrasellsiderThe Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today's column is written by Richard Jalichandra, CEO at iSocket.

A recent AdExchanger column concluded that everyone is to blame for lagging automated guaranteed adoption. Buyers, sellers and vendors are not exempt.

I agree. All parties bear responsibility for making this new ecosystem a success, but there’s some differences in how I think about the future of automated guaranteed. First, I believe automated guaranteed is compatible with a futures marketplace and second, publishers are savvier than some in the tech industry often give them credit for.

Change doesn’t happen overnight. Like any emerging technology, automated guaranteed can be most successful when we don’t try to reinvent the wheel from the get-go. Even though automation changes the way we do everything, new technology can be most effective if it, at least initially, mimics the way people have always done things, and whenever possible, integrates with existing systems to make workflows seamless.

The automation of guaranteed media sales can be used to create new marketplaces and forge connections between sellers and new buyers, but it can also be used to automate the workflow for existing direct sales.


Thorns In Our Side: False Promises And Embellishments

spanfeller-sell-siderThe Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today's column is written by Jim Spanfeller, CEO at Spanfeller Media Group.

Without exception, every industry has its fair share of embellishments and untruths. In many ways, we as human beings cannot help ourselves. We simply want everything to happen faster and better than it does.

There are those among us who are not so much embellishing as they are outright lying, usually for fiscal gain. In mature industries these folks operate at the fringes, preying on the neophytes and underinformed. In the digital world, I fear that with our search for the new thing, the paradigm shift or the “escape velocity,” some of the more unsavory aspects of the embellishment society are not so much the exception as they are one of the sector’s core business models.

We see this not just in specific instances but also at a macro level in far too many places. Some of the transgressions are funny in how commonplace and well known they are: “Hey, it is just one line of Java code that will take your dev team five minutes to install.” Others are not so funny and hold long-term and deep ramifications for our industry as a whole.


Choose The Right Kind Of Programmatic Direct For Each Deal

tom-shields-2The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Tom Shields, chief strategy officer at Yieldex.

Programmatic direct is the fastest-growing area of digital advertising, with both publishers and advertisers flocking to set up programmatic direct relationships.

It works for publishers because it gives them more control over which advertisers are buying their inventory at specific prices. And buyers like it because it gives them transparency to see the inventory they are buying from which publishers.

Programmatic direct is generally agreed to mean any deal that is negotiated or transacted directly between the buyer and the seller, but executed through automation. This is a broad definition encompassing several different kinds of deal terms, including automated guaranteed, preferred deals and private exchanges. The challenge for publishers is to make sure they are using the right kind of programmatic direct for the right deals so they get full value for their best placements.


Let Your Robots Be Robotic And Your People Be Creative

jeremyhlavacekeditedThe Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Jeremy Hlavacek, vice president of programmatic at The Weather Company.

Quick question: What’s the fastest way to kill the enthusiasm and energy of a media sales team?

Lost business? Re-orgs? Missed goals?

I don’t think it’s any of these. All of these things can hurt the team’s spirit, but in my experience, many sellers can rise to the occasion and bounce back with even greater determination.

So what’s the real killer? I think the answer is actually hiding in plain sight: process.

Next time you attend a process meeting that is designed to improve sales performance and efficiency, take a look at the participants. You’ll see glassy eyes, constant looking at phones and laptops and even outright yawning with eyelids drooping.


In Defense of The Open Exchange

samcoxsellsiderThe Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Sam Cox, vice president of OPEN global media management at MediaMath.

Programmatic is changing, and for the most part, it is changing for the better. Inventory that started as remnant now inches towards premium, data is getting better and more accessible, marketer control and transparency is increasing, and there are now more ways than ever to get direct access to high-quality inventory through the efficiency of programmatic. These are good things for everyone involved in the digital media ecosystem.

That said, our industry seems to have an addiction to constant change. Sometimes the shiny new object outshines the value of the ecosystem as a whole because it is often simpler to tout the next great thing than it is to actually understand the value of the integrated, whole programmatic space.

In programmatic, the key to driving performance is to know and understand the interrelationship between the different types of programmatic products and the values of each of the functional parts to a marketer and publisher. Specifically this means understanding how to use automated guaranteed, private marketplaces and the open exchange.


Programmatic Native: What Happens When Two Buzzwords Collide?

peterspandesellsiderThe Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Peter Spande, chief revenue officer at Business Insider.

Many publishers see their programmatic and native advertising as two very different ends in their yield spectrum. Whether called the barbell or the see-saw strategy, the thinking seems to be that programmatic automates and streamlines standardized elements, leaving more bandwidth to focus on native, which requires more customization.

That is starting to change. More ad tech companies and publishers combine the two hottest monetization trends. Or their road maps suggest the two trends eventually intersect. But can and should these two types of revenue drivers mix? Is this the latest yield booster for publishers or a source for more confusion and clutter on your website? If it is a good idea, how do programmatic and native practices combine?

Just as the web banner business matured, so too will native advertising. Remember early ad serving? Well, if you don’t, it was extremely manual, tremendously different from one site to the next and, in hindsight, extremely inflexible. As native advertising solutions of all types start to become more than experiments, the tools used to deploy and measure those ads will also evolve. Many of the programmatic tools used can and will expand to deliver native advertising in the future.