Direct Sales And Programmatic: A Happy Medium?

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AdExchanger runs a column called “The Sell Sider” and recently Lorne Brown, CEO at Operative, weighed in on this important topic. Highlights from his opinion piece follow…

Is Programmatic Advertising Economically Advantageous?
There’s a lot of talk that programmatic advertising brings more money and less overhead cost to an organization, leading to publishers rapidly expanding their programmatic channels. By 2016, eMarketer predicts, 63% of digital display will be programmatic, up from 24% in 2014. …the rapid growth predicted by eMarketer will come from types of automation to increase the efficiency of sales operations, rather than more publishers dumping remnant inventory in exchanges. A major driver will be programmatic direct, a compromise of sorts between fixed-price direct sales and exchange-traded remnant inventory.

What is Programmatic Direct?
Programmatic direct and other offerings that help direct sales are where publishers can gain the most value. There is a widespread fear and mistrust of “automation” on the sales side, but in reality it’s what enables salespeople to put their best foot forward and spend their time on high-ROI activities.

To keep pace with the future of digital sales, publishers should take a holistic look at their inventory and consider an integrated approach to automating their advertising business. This means ensuring that their direct and programmatic sales not only coexist, but also intertwine.

Standard Programmatic Inventory Shouldn’t Mean Bad Quality

As brands continue to demand high-impact, unique advertising solutions, “standard” inventory is quickly diminishing in value. Buyers are reluctant to pay high CPMs for leaderboards and skyscrapers when they are so readily available in the marketplace.

While this is the obvious first set of inventory to be pushed to programmatic channels, often through a supply-side platform, it shouldn’t feel like the place remnant inventory goes to die. Publishers should think about offering unique audience targeting opportunities. Some publishers are starting to create their own “audience trading desks” to differentiate from the large data marketplaces, charging more premium prices as a result. Publishers should also take fraud issues seriously. One bad audience extension buy through a programmatic channel could hurt future, more lucrative deals on the direct sales side.

Does Automation = Replaced By A Robot? No No No!

Programmatic direct technologies, such as AdSlot or ShinyAds, offer publishers a good opportunity to introduce direct sellers to tools that decrease tedious tasks, freeing them up to think about better custom offerings or make new deals. The sellers that embrace this will come out on top.

The Downside of Waterfall Selling

[Publishers] need to kill the blind “waterfall” approach to selling and think of direct and programmatic channels as one pool of inventory to be sold at the best price possible, including when its bundled with premium sales. To save time, sellers should be trained on the technologies that drive the best packaged sale for clients.

Next, publishers need to perform some well-orchestrated A/B tests with vendors to find the best mix as part of a strategy that involves shifting to a more agnostic, data-driven approach.

Automated ad sales should be a single piece of a larger, integrated business strategy.

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