Podcast: Is Programmatic Good For Publishers?

The first slur against programmatic, dating to about 2008, was that RTB stood for “race to the bottom.” In the same year Jeff Zucker, then CEO of NBCU, decried the trade of “analog dollars for digital dimes.” Since then programmatic’s reputation – and its associated revenue value to media companies – has improved dramatically.

But there is new grousing afoot.

Brian O’Kelley, who built the first exchange, recently said on this podcast, “It’s unclear if it actually is better from a yield perspective than the old way.” And a new academic study appears to throw cold water on programmatic’s value. A group of researchers tried to put a value on the revenue lift associated with “targeted advertising” by observing revenue from pages that contained tracking code. They concluded that value may be as low as 4%. [Read the paper and a sharp critique of it penned by CafeMedia EVP Paul Bannister.]

Today on the podcast we dive into this question with Jana Meron, SVP of programmatic and data strategy at Insider Inc. Meron is a pioneer of programmatic on the sell side, and she sees immense value in programmatic so long as publishers take an experimental mindset and don’t get hung up on RTB.

“Programmatic is good for publishers depending on how they use it,” she says. “Programmatic is about pipes talking to each other. Yes, it’s about bidding, but it doesn’t have to be.”

Meron describes the uptick in demand for “all things P” – meaning “premium” deal types in the form of programmatic guaranteed, preferred deals and private auctions. Ongoing concerns about trust and transparency have boosted adoption of these buying structures.

She also emphasizes the data and insights associated with selling programmatically.

“We’re getting to a place in the industry where we’re more sophisticated, and we’re able to have insights from programmatic that we’ve never had before,” Meron says. “And so, the concept of programmatic being ‘bad for publishers’ or publishers distancing themselves from it is forgetting about the value. If someone does a very large content campaign, shouldn’t they be supplementing that with a programmatic buy so you’re looking at your media mix holistically?”

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