Condé Nast Ups Its Programmatic Game

Conde-Nast-programmaticCondé Nast is expanding its programmatic offerings, giving buyers more options to use its first-party data and adding header bidding to boost programmatic supply.

The new offerings, unveiled in a pitch to buyers Wednesday evening as “premium programmatic at scale,” comes three months after the company hired Evan Adlman as its head of programmatic.

Condé Nast hopes to evolve as its digital audience has grown – it’s up 45% year over year – and buyer habits change.

“I think the timing is perfect for us to be in the market,” said Lisa Valentino, the head of ad sales for Condé Nast. “The demand is strong for the technology, the tech is in a better place and the conversations we are having are incredible.”

For Condé Nast, programmatic isn’t about offering discounts – it’s just another way to transact, and buyers are warming to the concept.

While buyers have used Condé Nast’s programmatic pipes for years, more premium buying channels like private marketplaces had a hard time scaling because the publisher prioritized them below direct deals.

Header bidding will change that, allowing buyers to locate hard-to-find consumers. A few header bidding partners are up now, and Adlman expects the number to top out at four or five.

Condé Nast,whose portfolio includes 21 brands, each with its own CRO, is also packaging its private marketplace and automated guaranteed inventory in ways that are more attractive to buyers. A brand can buy packages around events like the Met Gala, the Allure Readers’ Choice awards or the New Yorker Festival. Such buys can be time-based, contextual or a combination of both.

The company was an early investor in iSocket (now part of Rubicon Project), so a healthy amount of inventory transacts via automated guaranteed, according to Adlman.

Because of its wealth of subscriber data, as well as reader surveys and email newsletters, Condé Nast has a stronger data set than most publishers, which it stores in its data management platform. For the first time, it will enable audience extension, allowing its data to be used to buy audiences beyond Condé Nast’s network.

Adlman is leading a corporate programmatic team that will drum up interest in Condé Nast’s programmatic offerings, but he’s also training sellers at all the brands on how to sell programmatic. They’ll be compensated for bringing in programmatic deals.

Condé Nast’s stated goal is to make programmatic more integrated within the rest of the organization. That’s an evolution from where it started, when the company tried out other programmatic products like CatalystDesk spearheaded by Alanna Gombert. She spent a year and a half leading the company’s first prominent programmatic initiative and left in September 2014.

But since then winds have changed, including at the top. Late last year, Bob Sauerberg, who had been leading many digital changes, became CEO. Adlman is now at the programmatic reins, guiding how the company is going to market with programmatic.

More changes are to come with programmatic for Condé Nast. This year, Adlman expects to add programmatic native and programmatic video to its capabilities, in addition to managing a growing team that’s tasked with handling programmatic.

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