OpenX Blog

Agency Insider Series: Lesson Two

“The Publisher Story” – Why is programmatic marketing important to publishers?

By: Nicole Scaglione, Director of Buyer Development, OpenX

To understand how to better take advantage of programmatic marketing, it’s important to understand the publisher story. That is, how do publishers think about programmatic today and how can that insight benefit buyers?

I often get questions from buyers about why publishers utilize programmatic channels at all – “don’t they make more money with direct sales?” The simple answer: It depends on the publisher and their business model. But, to answer this question fully, I’ve enlisted two of our supply-side experts, Brian Chisholm and Julie Van Ullen, who lead our publisher relationship efforts in the U.S.

Brian and Julie weighed in on three specific topics to clarify programmatic buying from a publisher point of view:

  • Why does programmatic matter to publishers?
  • Why do publishers work with different tech partners to manage their programmatic inventory?
  • What do publishers expect from programmatic buyers?

Why does programmatic matter to publishers?

Essentially it comes down to efficiency and scale. Efficiency in workflow – for example, simplification of cumbersome tag management – allows for more “automated monetization,” freeing up resources for more strategic thinking and unique, interesting endeavors. Sales people can put their efforts toward new, creative executions.

This helps publishers grow their offering in a smarter way through programmatic pipes and “people-selling.” Beyond that, perhaps at the heart of why programmatic matters so much to publishers is, as Brian and Julie both put it simply and succinctly, “because it matters to buyers.” And that emphasis on the importance of the buyer also sits at the core of our next two questions.

Why do publishers work with different partners?

Similar refrain here – multiple channels bringing in unique demand. That means better monetization and more competition at the impression level. This is why the majority of publishers today are using header tags – they create additional competition starting at the highest level of the “waterfall,” creating access to the most coveted inventory that had not been easily available to all buyers. Buyers are then able to take advantage of header inventory, getting a better, “earlier” look at impressions; demand for that higher quality impression only grows.

While publishers work with multiple partners, there is a hierarchy to positioning based on monetization strength, quality of demand and ease of programmatic direct activation. In terms of demand, your tech partner’s own relationships may determine the quality of the demand it brings you. For example, a tech provider who has strong relationships with agency buyers can help bring in “premium,” recognizable brands who are looking for and are willing to pay for value. Those buyers are likely to continue investing if these higher quality impressions back out to efficient KPIs (however KPIs are being defined).

Similarly, partners who make Programmatic Direct executions easy for publishers (and thus buyers) may have a better, stickier relationship with a publisher and gain better positioning in the stack.

What do publishers expect from buyers?

Simply, publishers are looking for guidance and communication from buyers. Building trust through open communication channels helps all sides to be successful. As Julie and Brian put it, everyone benefits when the deal performs well. But deals need to be set up for success – and the best way to ensure that is to set realistic expectations for realistic deals and have frank, open conversations on what everyone needs.

We have seen several examples of publishers and buyers proactively coming together before campaigns go live – and those end up being some of the most successful programmatic direct executions. Just like any relationship, being honest with one another about your needs makes the difference in how close you get and how close you stay. Publishers want to learn and understand what buyers need in order to support them and see their relationships flourish.

Feel empowered to initiate these conversations directly with publishers yourself. You can always lean on tech providers for support, but remember publishers are probably the best suited to tell you their story.

Next up: Learnings from the Platform side – how to set up your DSP relationships for success by educating yourself on their capabilities.