Egmont’s Programmatic Strategy Speeds From Zero To Header Bidding

Egmont-DigitalEgmont, which operates more than a dozen publications in Europe, only started investing in digital advertising a couple of years ago. As the print business continued to decline, its Swedish operation decided to focus on fast-moving digital.

By extension, that meant going all-in with programmatic. To kick it off, Lars Näslund joined in August as its head of data and programmatic. Between August and March, programmatic increased 400%.

It turned out waiting had its advantages. All the Swedish agencies – the half-dozen main buyers – were ready to embrace programmatic and quickly pushed budgets Egmont’s way.

In contrast, according to Näslund, other Nordic countries where Egmont operates, such as Denmark and Norway, still don’t buy much programmatically.

Sweden’s buyers particularly liked private marketplaces, which allowed them to secure high-quality, low-fraud inventory.

“I asked some of the agencies why they book so many private marketplaces, and it’s because if you book on open [exchange], there are so many bad sites,” Näslund said, which reflect poorly on the agency.

But the problem was that Egmont’s private marketplaces, although priced at premiums, were trafficked at too low of a priority in its ad server. Lower-priced direct deals won over private marketplace deals that would have paid twice as much.

“We couldn’t deliver what they were buying,” Näslund said.

The solution was to add a header bidder and prioritize the private marketplace higher. Egmont chose PubMatic’s header bidding solution, which it is in the final stages of testing.

Although the decision to prioritize private marketplaces wasn’t initially popular, Näslund sold the team on the fact that header bidding would enable Egmont to establish the true value of its inventory.

A $10 CPM buyer couldn’t previously trump a direct deal booked for $8 CPM. Now, a salesperson can go back to the direct buyer and tell them the inventory is worth $10, not $8.

“Header bidding made it easier for us to establish a market CPM,” Näslund said, which helps the sales team. “A market price is easier to sell to a buyer than a list price,” which is an arbitrary valuation of inventory.

The fact that programmatic deals are increasing the value of Egmont’s inventory is also a sign that, in Sweden at least, buying programmatically isn’t about achieving a lower price, but the ability to add in more data and decreasing the friction of buying.

Programmatic, ultimately, “is just a way to buy,” Näslund said. “A year or two ago it was buying cheap impressions, and today it’s a way to execute and analyze all your campaigns.”

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