The Future Of Custom Ad Units

Sun, March 22, 2020

The Future Of Custom Ad Units Adslot

Sun, March 22, 2020

For both digital media planners and digital publishers, the custom ad unit presents a classic conundrum. The distinctiveness that creates desirability also raises what can be thorny pricing questions.

While standard digital ad units typically lead to something approaching standard pricing, the ground can easily shift when custom ad units come into play.

I recently asked Penske Media Corporation senior director of programmatic sales Vinh Chung for his perspective on custom ad units.

Paul Talbot: In terms of a share of overall digital ad revenue, how significant are custom ad units to Penske?

Vinh Chung: Custom ad units are an essential part of what we offer in terms of premium ad products. Custom ad units make approximately 30% of our direct revenue with a surge in demand with programmatic buyers as well.

Talbot: Is this importance declining, growing or stable?

Chung: We believe it’s growing, but there has been a shift in automating these custom ad units via programmatic-guaranteed or through platforms like Adslot.  Buyers are looking for more options to help drive efficiency with these types of executions.

However, there are limitations in running these executions via programmatic pipes.  Many SSP (supply-side platform used by publishers to manage, sell and optimize available inventory) partners are trying to address those challenges by providing workarounds in GAM (Google Ad Manager).

So, while the demand is growing, the solutions aren’t quite there yet.

Talbot: Why?

Chung:  Any reason a buyer could have for optimizing the workflow in producing these units and executing them on a publisher’s domain would be a valid one. Just about every RFP we’ve received in the last year has callouts for any executions that can run via programmatic channels or slated for direct only.

The trend isn’t unique but it’s obvious that leveraging automation is helping to save costs at the end of the day. We’ve even seen the rise of specific publishers offering their own custom units to clients to run on other publishers outside of their O&O (owned and operated).

Talbot: We know that the absence of standards, uniform sizing, positioning and other factors makes an apples-to-apples comparison of custom ad units virtually impossible. Has this been the primary barrier to their inclusion on programmatic platforms, or are there other considerations?

Chung: The current creative blocks in place which every SSP adheres to prevents nefarious and fraudulent buyers from running in programmatic pipes.  Unfortunately, these limitations can impact the way legit buyers intend to run high impact or custom executions by misidentifying their creatives as one of these bad players.

Talbot: When you set out to create value for a marketer with a custom ad unit, what benefits are you hoping to deliver and what benchmarks are you using to try and quantify these benefits?

Chung: We’re hoping to deliver a meaningful execution in front of the right audience for the advertiser. Again, our offering is unique in which they can only buy this experience via Penske Media Corporation sites. There are KPIs that need to be met, but a good portion of our continued business revolves around client relationship management and adopting automation when it’s necessary.

Talbot: Does the absence of an apples-to-apples comparison inherent with one custom ad unit to another give a publisher a meaningful point of differentiation, a way to decommoditize inventory?

Chung: Yes, we seem to think so, although I’m sure it’s frustrating on the buy side to spec every piece of creative asset for each publisher. There are a few networks out there, who are trying to standardize these formats (Celtra, etc.) but they still pose challenges given that every publisher follows different set up rules when executing these formats.

We believe differentiating our inventory with custom ad experiences ensures our ad products can stand out from the crowd — both from other publishers and from the standard ad units users are so used to seeing.

Talbot: Any other thoughts on custom ad units?

Chung: We’re always working on ways to update our custom ad products which includes the ability to automate these executions either through programmatic pipes or automated platforms.

To meet the growing demand, we’ve dedicated our own resources to working closely with rich media vendors on templatizing our offerings, while also ensuring we’re Better Ads compliant.

Article originally published by Forbes.  Please click here to read the original article.