Two Publishers, Two Reach Extension Strategies

Publishers DSPAfter signing up 150 publishers for its self-service DSP, Centro officially launched the platform Thursday.

The publishers managing reach extension internally come from opposite ends of the spectrum: McClatchy, a local media company with roots in more than two dozen markets, and PureWow, a small, national lifestyle publisher.

They’ve come to the same decision.

“It’s increasingly important to bring programmatic expertise in-house vs. being reliant on external vendors or partners,” said Katie Risch, SVP of publisher development at Centro.

DIY reach-extension publishers can market themselves as having an “in-house buying desk,” not just publishers with access to real-time bidding. That moniker comes with real benefits: the ability to communicate more openly and deeply with clients about campaign setup, insights and optimization.

Then there’s a biggie for publishers. “[Self-service] controls the cost and brings some of the margin back in house,” Risch said. Publishers pay a CPM on the media they buy through the Centro platform, and mark up the inventory according to the value they can add through their first-party data.

That adds up to savings of 30-50%, Risch said.

Centro has observed an increase in publisher revenue coming from reach extension, estimating that it’s risen from 1-5% a few years ago to 5-10% today.

Increasing that number required structural changes among publishers, like “convincing market leadership to include reach extension in the sales goals for the year,” said John Hyland, VP of publisher solutions at Centro.

Extra revenue may be the main reason publishers are doing reach extension, but diversifying options is also a strategic decision: Publishers win more clients and bigger budgets by serving them better.

The Agency Approach

McClatchy uses a number of digital extension solutions for customers, including the Local Media Consortium and Simplifi, but favors Centro’s self-serve DSP for larger clients with larger budgets. Having multiple options, including self-serve, enables it to act more like a full-service marketing organization.

“We’re taking business from digital agencies,” said John Jordan, director of digital revenue development for McClatchy. “We’re able to operate in a competitive media landscape because we have more flexibility by doing it ourselves.”

McClatchy can handle desktop, mobile and video advertising through Centro’s DSP, in addition to its capabilities in search engine marketing, reputation management and print spends for a company. And it wins the ability to manage spends statewide or even nationwide, not just in a newspaper’s region.

Using a self-service DSP enables quick optimization and the ability to shift budgets without working through an intermediary. Right now, McClatchy runs self-service buying desks in six of its 27 markets, along with a centralized desk to support smaller properties.

It’s brought on additional staff to help execute the buys and focus on delivering ROI. “More than having staff, it’s forcing us to train differently,” Jordan said. “We’re big on selling solutions, not a product.”

The Audience Approach

PureWow uses Centro’s DSP in order to provide scale the niche publisher cannot provide on its own. The growing site attracted 3.3 million unique visitors in June, its best month yet, but it receives RFPs that ask for audiences it just can’t deliver.

“If a client or agency says we need to reach X% of this market, and we can’t fulfill that number via comScore, we say we have audience extension that reaches more than they want,” said Kevin Stetter, SVP of sales and operations at PureWow.

The female-oriented lifestyle publisher often retargets existing readers for reach extension buys. It can bring in third-party data, like “female small business owners,” to satisfy advertiser targeting requirements.

PureWow trained its existing trafficking and ad ops specialist to execute reach extension buys.

While PureWow has added reach extension, it views it as supplemental to its core offerings, which focus on native content, Stetter said.

“It’s a tool in our arsenal to not lose buys” when those buyers need certain scale or reach, Stetter said.

Reach extension adds flexibility, a sentiment echoed by Jordan.

“It’s an evolution from one-size-fits-all to putting together many solutions for an advertiser,” he said, “of which audience extension is one of them.”

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