Programmatic May Spark An Evolution In Publisher-Client Relationships

craigkostelicsellsiderThe Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Craig Kostelic, head of digital at Bon Appétit & Epicurious, The Food Innovation Group

Editorial brands have an emotional relationship with their audiences. Advertisers work with editorial brands to get the halo effect of this emotional connection.

But when brand messaging in that editorial environment stops, does a three-month campaign deliver the attitudinal KPIs that advertisers are looking for in the product or service that they’re promoting in perpetuity?

The answer is a resounding “no.”

This is why the rise of programmatic advertising is the single greatest opportunity for all digital publishers. Those who adopt programmatic, data and technology strategies that deliver “right time” personalized messaging across all assets will prosper in this media disruption.

In doing so, publishers will be able to execute evergreen, always-on partnerships with brands that can continuously connect that brand with the right editorial environment. This consistent presence is necessary to move the needle for attitudinal KPIs that stick with consumers over longer periods of time.

How Programmatic, Data And Technology Play A Role

The ease of doing business is such a critical and sometimes overlooked variable in this equation. Every group in all stages of the media-buying process is limited on resources and bandwidth. Thus, deeper, evergreen partnerships between those that are planning media and those that are representing the inventory are few and far between.

Publishers can enable these types of partnerships to happen more frequently with a fully flushed programmatic strategy. This eases the friction of the publisher-direct workflow process, and it lessens the waste of both parties’ resources.

One of the biggest benefits of programmatic is workflow efficiency, which may sound like boring digital media jargon. The current process by which digital media gets planned with a publishing partner may look something like this:

  • Strategy team creates brief with recommended partner list and sends to buying team
  • Buying team refines partner list and sends out RFPs
  • Publisher confirms receipt and asks questions while working on its submission
  • Publisher submits and buying team evaluates proposals, asks questions and seeks clarifications
  • Buying team makes recommendation to client
  • Client approves plans
  • Buying team notifies publisher and sends IOs
  • Publisher confirms that IO terms match proposal and signs
  • Kick-off call is scheduled to discuss project management of the campaign
  • Agency sends publisher assets needed
  • Publisher conducts quality assurance and sets campaign live
  • Publisher sends screen shots to confirm live placements
  • Publisher sends reporting on some sort of predetermined timely basis with occasional optimization recommendations that sometimes get implemented
  • Campaign ends and client receives wrap-up report with recommendations on things to improve upon for next iteration
  • Process starts over

As you can see, this process is very manual, with a lot of opportunities for friction and inefficiencies.

Take A Cue From Search Advertising

In the digital space, the best examples of long-term, seamless media relationships and transactions happen in search advertising. Once the media partner’s API is integrated with the search providers’ platform, such as AdSense or Bing Ads, the means by which changes occur happen instantaneously. Constant communication between media buyer and seller is necessary to ensure that everything is running smoothly and that changes have gone through the system properly, but the organizational bandwidth on any given execution is greatly reduced for both parties, although media is consistently running year-round against a targeted consumer.

To move this initiative forward, it is critical for organizations in charge of placing media budgets to set programmatic goals that incentivize publishers to make this dream a reality. Shifting programmatic budgets from being direct response-based to being branding-based is the type of incentivizing that’s necessary to make this happen.

However, what was once spent on direct response goals is now being directed toward programmatic with the same efficiency KPIs. Is this because agency and client mindsets need to shift, or because publishers have been using programmatic to monetize unsold, less valuable inventory? The answer is a little bit of both.

If clients and publishers can intelligently partner to allow media buys to flow through programmatic to become a larger part of the media equation, they can realize the goal of delivering longer, deeper and higher-quality advertising programs that tangibly shift consumer perception. The ambition to reallocate organizational resources from manual labor tasks to strategic creativity is within everyone’s grasp.

Follow Craig Kostelic (@CKostelic) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. There is one fallacy with this post, which is the fact that Google/Search engines own all the inventory. Therefore they are able to do everything through APIs and seamlessly, because there aren’t 1000s of different publisher partners to work with (that are incentivized to not have their inventory commoditized and direct sales cannibalized). Private Exchanges are great but only larger buyers can execute on this- I think the future will be a part programmatic, a part direct buys (for custom executions and ad networks with deep specializations).