Automated Guaranteed is The Gift That Keeps Giving

Charmagne Jacobs
Fri, December 21, 2018

Automated Guaranteed is The Gift That Keeps Giving Charmagne Jacobs

Fri, December 21, 2018

December brings with it some of the biggest opportunities and challenges for publishers as they look to increase operational efficiency, maximize revenue, and inch closer to crossing the finish line on year-end goals. While measurable strides forward are being made across the board, automation continues to assert its value in terms of giving publishers the best of both worlds, writes Charmagne Jacobs, Head of Global Marketing and North America Partnerships, Adslot.

The biggest challenge for publishers in Q4 is finding dollars that haven’t already been allocated to upfront partnerships and, as the year comes to a close and holiday spend increases, processing as many incremental orders as possible. To be successful you need to have strong relationships with your buyers and be able to process orders as quickly and efficiently as possible. That blend of collaborating directly with your premium clients while also reducing human error and improving operational efficiency is best served through programmatic guaranteed (PG).

PG has experienced a resurgence in the last year. As industry demand for faster, safer and cleaner ad buying has increased, automation technology has become more sophisticated and suitable to both buyer and seller needs. Not only is it 96 percent safer than programmatic, according to the 2018 IAS Media Quality Report, but it’s proven to be a quicker way to process guaranteed orders on premium products and inventory. For buyers looking to layer on their first-party data, it’s a great way to keep campaigns out of PMPs (or worse, an open auction) and maintain rate card pricing. Publishers can minimize potential human error and quicken time to launch through the automation, while also maintaining control of which ads are running on their sites during the busiest time of the year.

For the purpose of this article, we should really use the term “automated guaranteed,” or AG, to truly capture the automation of publisher-direct sales, as we’ve seen some looser definitions of what exactly a programmatic guaranteed solution might be. AG technology automates direct sales and allows buyers to layer on first-party data, while incorporating a communication platform that enables the sellers and ops teams to collaborate and share creative assets in one, centralized location. This direct relationship not only reinforces publisher and client relationships, but allows them to negotiate and discuss campaign performance jointly. This helps sellers to remain involved even after the deal is signed. For those publishers who have siloed teams of direct sales and programmatic sales, AG might be the perfect solution to marry the two revenue streams while keeping the commission structure intact.

Quality over Quantity

If you’re concerned that automation will put downward pressure on ad prices, I’ll argue that it does the opposite. Automation is inevitable, and data is becoming critical to buyers. To that end, advertisers are investing huge sums into DMPs and currently their best option to employ that data is through PMPs. The challenge to both the buyer and seller is that PMPs gives buyers lower value and lower priority inventory. PMPs also mean lower CPMs for publishers and smaller budgets as there is a higher cannibalization to tech tolls. Everyone wants fewer intermediaries to tackle serious industry issues such as transparency and brand safety. Far from the programmatic reputation as a “race to the bottom,” AG is shaping up to be a flight to quality.

Upper Funnel Performance

Programmatic display buying is increasing year-over-year (21 percent increase is expected in 2019) as more and more buyers insist on a faster, cleaner and more scalable way to buy inventory using their preferred data segments. Leveraging data effectively and efficiently is quickly becoming the standard for sophisticated buyers. Accommodating that buyer need can be another significant differentiator for publishers. Data provides insight on audiences, not just inventory, which is increasingly more important to brands and advertisers looking to personalize their engagement with consumers. This can be an objection strategy for publishers who want to keep their premium inventory out of programmatic.

We’ve seen clients who run complex data strategies across their publisher-direct buys, and others who are simply suppressing their CRM segments against those buys. This creates an immense reduction in waste for the buyer and a huge win for publishers who get to keep those insertion orders (IOs) out of lower-yielding PMPs. Employing first-party data from their DMP or from the publisher also helps advertisers who are concerned about GDPR, as they need to ensure that the data they’re using is clean and compliant.

No Dollar Left Behind

Operational efficiency is increasingly critical during high-volume time periods, like the holidays. Due to the immense influx of orders, a lot of publishers are leaving money on the table by passing up smaller requests. That’s because smaller orders ($100,000 or less) can often take as much time as their larger counterparts, but they don’t generate as much revenue. During this busy season, ad ops teams are often working 14 hours a day to make sure no order goes un-serviced.

Direct sales is mostly a manual, archaic process that involves availability checks, scheduling, custom reports, negotiations, coordination between sales and ops, trafficking and much more. Automation can solve 70 percent of that resource crunch. You don’t need to sacrifice those guaranteed buys to programmatic because you don’t have the time to run them directly. Now you can do both: get the direct IO and complete it quickly through automation.

AG is the gift that keeps on giving—it keeps your premium inventory premium, gives you more top-line revenue and allows you to process more orders to capitalize on the busiest time of the year. It brings together the efficiency and scale of data-driven buying with the guarantee and safety of publisher direct. You don’t need to go diving for dollars this holiday season when they’re already guaranteed.