Podcast: Crazy Like A Vox

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Programmatic has matured far beyond its early days as a source of low-CPM, backfill demand for publishers, but marketplace friction and talent shortages are still holding it back.

“Programmatic enables so much more than what exists on the direct sales side,” Ryan Pauley, Vox Media’s VP for revenue operations, says in the latest episode of AdExchanger Talks. “But so far a lot of folks have brought to the table the same products … at the same prices.”

It’s not just publishers. Pauley says the buy side is holding up progress too.

“All buyers should understand the ad server setup for everywhere they’re running,” he says. “Am I getting everything via header bidding? Am I slotted below certain things? You need to know what that priority is so you can inform your bid strategy.”

You might be surprised to hear Vox pushing a progressive agenda with programmatic. After all, many VC-backed digital media firms – such as BuzzFeed, Mic and Refinery29 – still shun programmatic.

But the company has not only embraced automated selling, it has sought to push the envelope in areas like dynamic creative and private marketplaces.

“We view programmatic as the means to an end,” Pauley says. “Two or three years ago, programmatic equaled ad network, low-CPM, poor-quality advertising. Now it’s a mechanism through which brands can execute media at scale. And we welcome that and are promoting that as a more valuable and viable option for brands and marketers we work with.”

Pauley covers a lot of ground in this episode: walled garden scale, the ad tech tax, content studios, the problem with “programmatic native” and more. Give it a listen, and subscribe.

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