Hearst Lays Programmatic Direct Pipes With Varick

Programmatic Direct PipesAs of Friday, Hearst Corporation will offer so-called premium ad units across its digital media network (which includes Cosmopolitan.com, Esquire.com and GoodHousekeeping.com) through a programmatic direct partnership with Varick Media Management.

Hearst premium units involve high-impact placements that expand or include rich media, like the “lightbox,” “billboard” and cross-device “pushdown” unit that fills the page. Previously, these units were available only via direct buys.

“There used to be a deep divide between direct premium and programmatic. Now they’ve become complementary line items with a premium publisher like ourselves,” said Todd Haskell, SVP and CRO of Hearst Digital Media.

Their goal is to use the partnership to “grow our premium business,” Haskell said, with “tools to let advertisers target the massive scale of the Hearst audience by using data in a more sophisticated way.”

Buying premium units via programmatic direct allows for more scale with site-level transparency.

Varick will match its audience data with the first-party data Hearst collects through its data-management platform.

“For a media brand, we could identify segments of our audience that are interested in learning about new entertainment opportunities and content, build a profile of those readers and enable Varick to target on that segmentation,” said Haskell.

Ensuring premium units were available across devices was also a key consideration for Hearst who, like other publishers, is still working out how best to monetize in that channel.

“We think that this is a perfect way for us to monetize our growing mobile audience effectively. The high-impact, high-quality format is going to do great things for performance and reader satisfaction,” Haskell said.

For Varick, the programmatic-direct partnership with Hearst builds on its move earlier this year into private marketplaces. Jim Caruso, VP of product strategy, joined Varick at the beginning of the year to shepherd products like these through.

“Clients can view us as a direct-response type of shop,” Caruso said. “VMM Premier [the programmatic-direct product] can help us break out of that, and show we have the same ability as a direct publisher or network to run immersive, high-impact units – powered with data.”

Varick will onboard more publishers to the VMM product as it begins to see results from early advertisers.

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