How can publishers maximise yield from programmatic sales

It is reasonable to believe that with the rise of programmatic buying and selling, premium advertising inventory has become a dying commodity, and in this new model of digital advertising and real-time bidding (RTB), many publishers have come to fear exchanges.

The concern for premium publishers in particular is that improved advertiser access to their inventory without the proper controls will diminish their revenues – and in many ways they are right. An increasing amount of quality inventory, combined with better tools for protecting advertisers, means that publishers will struggle to sell premium inventory directly for anything other than the most bespoke campaigns, something which usually involves elaborate creative integrations.

Traditionally, advertisers have placed a value on the readership of a publication based on how closely aligned the content is to their own brand messaging. However, the introduction of programmatic, along with the clever use of data, has allowed advertisers to create their own relationships with potential buyers, regardless of content.

So what is next in line for those publishers with branded quality content?

Some visionary publishers have carved a position of providing creative and innovative propositions to advertisers to keep their rates high. However, when it comes to standard inventory – of which there is an abundance of supply across the wider market – should brand publishers open up the sale of their inventory to the highest bidder using RTB platforms and exchanges?

The reality is that there is no avoiding the fact that advertisers are increasingly spending more of their budgets in programmatic. So for publishers looking to embrace the exchanges, here are a few tips to ensure your inventory attracts the highest bids:

1. Pick the right RTB platform: Not all platforms are considered the same by advertisers so make sure your platform has a direct integration with agencies and demand specialists that have a proven track record of brand safe inventory. It is also important to ensure your chosen platform offers controls appropriate to your requirements.

2. Create independent tags and segment your website: You will find that some sections of your site are considered more valuable than others. Make sure you set the appropriate floor rates (minimum bid price) for each section to improve the overall revenue.

3. Understand that RTB buyers are looking for user data: Make sure you add value by using available tools to understand more about visitors such as demographics or interests. Transfer all the knowledge you have about users into the data call. While a brand name URL has value, robust user data attached to an impression bid will attract much higher bids.

4. Choose wisely whether to mask your URL or not: Typically, masked URLs send a message to advertisers that the domain could be non-brand safe, so it could be considered as low in value. If you do decide to mask the URL then make sure you let preferred advertisers know that it’s you.

5. Ensure brand safety: Avoid any content that may create brand safety issues, as this will automatically be rejected in RTB.

6. Consider setting yourself up as a private marketplace: Many premium publishers are creating private marketplaces to maintain the barrier of entry to access their inventory. Whilst this may not increase rates or revenue, you will be able to control who has access to your site content and user data.

7. Work with trusted partners to increase the value of your data and users: A known-brand audience is valuable to advertisers. By working with the right data and delivery partner you can use your 1st-party data and their 3rd-party data to create a new unique 2nd-party dataset, increasing the value of your digital readership both on your website and across the internet.

8. Consider viewability: Keep advertising space in positions that are viewed frequently, either above the fold or in popular areas of your site. Viewability is becoming an increasingly used metric to measure the quality of the inventory and advertising clients are beginning to demand a guarantee that their ads will be, or are seen.

9. Add value to your space: Any additional information you can provide – such as describing if the ad is above the fold, the page topic or what device the user is using to access the page – will help add value to the ad proposition.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but publishers that follow the above guidance – then test, measure and test some more – will ensure their inventory yields maximum advertising revenue.

By Adrian Lacey, UK Managing Director, Crimtan.

This article appeared in WHAT’S NEW IN PUBLISHING.