If Vendors Sent Fewer Canned Emails, They Would Reach More Publishers

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

Today’s column is written by Emry DowningHall, vice president of advertising at Chegg.

I receive a deluge of pitches from advertising networks, exchanges, supply-side platforms and every other ad tech acronym that aims to help publishers monetize their inventory.

While the language of each pitch varies slightly, they’ve all assured me that the opportunity they’re presenting is the perfect fit for my needs – despite few actually understanding what those needs are.

While sending a custom email to every publisher they’re hoping to reach might not scale, chances are that their automated email template is doing more harm than good. The good news for ad tech companies looking to reach publishers is that we’re usually open to being pitched. The caveat is common sense: They want that pitch to be targeted to them, their needs and their website.

Instead of blasting thousands of emails, vendors should try selecting 25 websites they truly want to target, first defining internally why their offering would be a good fit. What can they tell the publisher about its current ad stack they can improve on and why? What challenges are they certain publishers are facing and how can they help them solve those?

When an email outlines a few of the partners I’m already working with and explains one or two specifics as to how a vendor can improve my monetization efforts, it becomes a much harder message to archive. Even something simple, like offering net 30 payment terms or a preferred revenue share versus a partner they know offers net 60 standard and a 75/25 split, is a tangible improvement over a current setup.

A change in outreach strategy to a more tailored approach requires buy-in from top executives that it’s the correct way to market the business. While most companies focus on scale and reaching as many publishers as possible, concentrating on those that best fit a specific offering will help their message move faster than any email blast. I receive most of my partner leads from other publishers, and I make a point of always telling others about companies that are adding value to my stack. The good is celebrated and the bad is reviled but be certain, it’s being discussed.

To combat the parity of programmatic inventory, publisher outreach should focus on the unique demand opportunities that a vendor can provide. In other words, vendors must explain the new budgets, partners, creative sizes or DSPs to which they are going to expose publishers’ inventory.

Do they have a dedicated team focused on ad quality? Can they offer one-to-one interaction with an account manager versus a ticket system? Are they willing to guarantee a fixed CPM rate without passbacks, at least for the duration of the trial? Does their reporting system make it easier for publishers to understand the value they are adding?

While it’s great to see so many partners emerge in the header bidding space, simply communicating that a vendor offers a solution isn’t enough. If they are serious about getting publishers to integrate their tech, vendors must outline the new budgets they’ll be exposing their inventory to, what wrappers they’re compatible with and whether or not they support an OpenRTB integration.

Vendors should also have dedicated engineering resources available and be certain to define success metrics with the publisher. A quick skim of a page should give vendors an idea of whom publishers are currently working with; based on that, why is their solution going to be a benefit?

I received so many automated email pitches that I now return a form to senders tasking them with answering many of the questions outlined here with a particular focus on finance and publisher contacts for referrals. I figured if they were serious about testing they would be eager to explain why and show off their credentials.

I should also point out not everyone is an offender. Just last week I received what I believed to be a clever but automated pitch critiquing our flooring strategy for header bidding. In response I politely called the sender out, joking that it was at least creative enough to garner a response. He returned the specific data he was citing with screen shots and explained why he believed his tech could help increase yield.

While that’s yet to be determined, rest assured he’s at least earned a meeting.

Follow Emry DowningHall (@EmryDH), Chegg (@Chegg) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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