Intermarkets Speaks The Language Of Programmatic Sales

Intermarkets Requidan SnowPublishers selling programmatic need trained “digital media operators” who can speak the language of buyers.

That’s how Intermarkets, which owns or represents media properties like Drudge Report, and The Political Insider, aims to differentiate itself in a crowded field of sellers: speaking the language of programmatic to buyers, and setting up its technological stack to benefit those buyers.

Intermarkets, which also owns or represents dozens of other conservative-leaning publishers, initially goes to programmatic buyers with a scaled audience that can accept large budgets and performance-driven advertisers.

Buyers need to find a high percentage of their target audience among Intermarkets’ 30 million monthly uniques and 800 million page views. Buyers also want first look, inventory that performs and the ability to buy high-impact units programmatically – along with a team with expertise to explain the options and quickly implement them.

“The marketplace is full of digital 1.0 and digital 2.0 sellers,” said Erik Requidan, Intermarkets’ VP of sales and programmatic strategy. “Not a lot of sellers are capable of having tech-driven conversations. To execute everything a buyer or trading desk wants to do, you have to have the right people at the table.”

At Intermarkets, heeding the demands of those buyers means bringing the sales, ad operations and yield experts together. All three may call on a client together. That allows them to quickly iron out questions like custom technical setups, which get complicated fast.

Those buyer conversations might be about “how do you know who has true first look vs. first look,” explained Stephanie Snow, VP of ad operations. “Maybe the partner [we] have set up as true first look isn’t someone the buyer is integrated with, so it’s how we can adjust the current implementation to still guarantee them first look.”

Conversations go beyond pricing, centering on how to slice and dice a site’s inventory or find the audience most valuable to the advertiser. “We have a lot of conversations about how to uncover those highly coveted pockets of premium inventory,” Requidan said.

That requires transparency on both sides, said Sam Cox, MediaMath’s VP of OPEN global media management, which works with Intermarkets.

MediaMath will generally start with a broad deal that runs all of its advertisers across a publisher’s entire inventory. Then it homes in on the advertisers finding value and the best-performing pockets of inventory. MediaMath and Intermarkets create deals that build on those insights while maintaining the cost per action the buyer needs to hit for the advertisers.

“We’re open about what we want to achieve,” Cox said. MediaMath shares CPAs it needs to hit, and finds out if the corresponding CPMs will work with the publisher.

Because both sides are transparent, it’s easier to set up deals where buyers pay less one month and more the next. “We have deals with Intermarkets that are transparent relationships in order to help work through the seasonality and fluctuations in available supply,” Cox said.

But being a programmatic seller also requires developing technical setups for buyers to leverage.

Intermarkets works with multiple header bidding partners – including OpenX, Amazon, Sonobi, Criteo, Rubicon and Index Exchange – to provide better access to its inventory programmatically. Via header bidding, it’s easier for buyers to uncover their target audiences because these partners see all of the inventory.

“It’s how you can help the advertiser find the audience in an unclear environment with greater clarity, better predictability and placements,” Requidan said. “That’s why we have our stack set up the way we do, and the buyers benefit greatly.”

Having an ad stack with header bidding options not only serves programmatic buyers, it commands a premium. “Buyers have been public about how they would commit premium price points for more direct-like integration,” Requidan said.

MediaMath confirmed the importance of priority. “We do audits of every publisher to know every priority and daisy chain, if they have header tag and what priority it traffics at,” Cox said. Where MediaMath chooses to enter the market impacts the price it pays.

Bids received through the header still have to compete with direct-sold impressions, but differences between programmatic CPMs and direct CPMs are no longer as drastic at Intermarkets.

“If you’re talking about the same price points with premium programmatic as direct, you have to make sure the quality is there,” Snow said. That means allowing buyers access to more inventory so they can pick up what’s most valuable to them and leave the rest.

Because both programmatic and direct campaigns require cultivating relationships and meaningful revenue, publishers who organize direct and programmatic sales teams separately are making a mistake, Requidan said.

“There needs to be a shift in mindset for a lot of legacy publishers to reprogram themselves and move away from their own internal conflicts and thoughts of cannibalization and siloed groups,” he said.

The proof is in the revenue.

“We’re able to achieve double-digit, high single-digit CPMs,” Requidan said. “We’re focused on being able to automate premium direct opportunities with premium buyers, and that is what enables the direct-like pricing.”

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