Reuters Beefs Up Team And Tech As It Pushes Into Header Bidding, Automated Guaranteed

reuters-programmaticAlthough selling ad inventory programmatically offers the promise of automation, the reality is often quite different.

“There is still a lot of high-touch in programmatic,” said Reuters Solutions VP John Toth.

While Toth wants the market to become more efficient and automated, Reuters realized that adding people, tech and service to programmatic spend yields the best results.

When Reuters implemented header bidding six months ago, it was the culmination of a year-long pruning of its “chunky” tech stack.

“Header bidding has not had a negative effect of programmatic beating out direct,” Toth said. “And it’s been able to give a better look to advertisers of our audience.”

Besides header bidding, Reuters devotes resources to private marketplaces, where its display and video inventory command high CPMs. Two members of Reuters’ programmatic team focus on setting up private marketplaces directly with trading desks and through joint efforts with the direct sales team.

But too often private marketplaces still don’t deliver scale, an industrywide problem as buyers and sellers try to adapt open marketplace tech for one-to-one deals. “We are trying to move beyond ‘set it and forget it’ with private marketplaces,” Toth said.

Sales support helps. Salespeople focused on programmatic account for about 10% of Reuters’ sales staff globally. They attend all the same meetings and often work together with direct accounts.

“We are fully integrated at this point,” Toth said. “The reporting structure is aligned, they sit on the same floor and they attend the same meetings.”

Crucially, both programmatic and direct sellers earn a commission on private marketplaces, a change made two years ago. Before, the two groups did not share compensation.

“That dropped a barrier between direct and programmatic sales and made it more collaborative than competitive,” Toth remembered.

As Reuters moves into 2017, it will focus on two key priorities. It will continue to tweak and improve its header bidding implementations, and it wants to see more clients pursue guaranteed programmatic deals.

“We will continue to push toward automated guaranteed,” Toth said. “We see steady growth in those deals, both up funnel and down funnel.”

Both direct and programmatic-focused clients are exploring more automated, data-driven ways to executing deals.

“As programmatic has become a more important part of clients’ overall marketing strategy,” Toth said, “there is an increased need for transparency around exactly where their message appears and in what context. “

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