If war is too important to leave to generals, then content optimization is too crucial to leave to editorial teams. That’s the animating idea behind this week’s acquisition of digital content analyzer JumpTime by display ad server and publisher-facing exchange OpenX.
OpenX has been steadily building its supply-side platform. But the concept of determining how publishers can best present their content to indirectly drive CPMs higher suggests that it feels a need to broaden its ad-based abilities.
“It is different sort of acquisition for us and that’s partly the point of this deal with JumpTime,” Cadogan told AdExchanger. “If you think of what most of the ad tech does, including us to date, it tries to take ad space and increase revenue for publishers by increasing the CPM of that space. Whether it’s a real-time traded market or a supply-side platform, most of them are about trying to increase revenue by increasing power. And that’s great, it really does help.”
The combination is meant to reflect the wider concerns of digital publishing beyond just where to place ads and targeting audiences around a particular piece of content. It comes at a time when audience buying is increasing and publishers feel the idea of the total brand is under siege.
“We’ve also pulled back and started thinking: what is a publisher actually trying to do? It boils down to a couple of elemental things,” Cadogan said. “They’re trying to create an audience and then monetize it through advertising. There are two dimensions to that. One is, how do you create volume around your content, how do you get the audience to engage with it, spend more time with it, whether it’s text, images or video. And that volume creates revenue. When we met with JumpTime, we realized...they were helping publishers drive revenue by creating a more valuable set of content experiences.”
In starting JumpTime a little over two years ago, it began to dawn on Michele DiLorenzo, the company’s former head and now an SVP at OpenX, there was a recognition that publishers had no clear option to manage their data that would influence their content strategy and connect it to their digital advertising. “It all starts with the ad operations side, that’s where the strategy starts in terms of determining where the potential exists for the impressions you can deliver,” DeLorenzo said. “The other parts of the editorial operation – the content, product, marketing functions – those are the people who determine how much of the revenue got realized at the end of the day.”
JumpTime was focused on that second part of the equation. “When you really think about it, all aspects of revenue management can have a self-correcting mechanism, because content and ad strategies should not be pursued in a vacuum, siloed away from each other, she added. “Publishers have been flying blind. Revenue generation is not just the responsibility of the ad tech, ad sales side. It’s the responsibility of the entire organization. This platform will speak to that.”
As OpenX continues to broaden its exchange offerings, Cadogan was clear that as the company works on the integration of JumpTime, the goal is not to blunt the effects of audience buying, but to make it more advantageous for publishers to embrace those platforms.
“We’ve benefited from the trend of audience buying,” Cadogan noted. “Our business is being driven by premiere marketers who use demand side platforms to achieve direct response goals. And we have 94 of America’s top marketers using the OpenX marketplace. A lot of those brands want their ads to appear in premium contexts. What we and JumpTime can do is create more volume and therefore create more space for audience buying platforms to work in. There is an important macro-connection there as well.”
Offering an example of how the combined services of OpenX and JumpTime will work from a practical standpoint, Cadogan said a publisher might find that their sports vertical performs particularly well. When users go to the publisher's sports homepage, the publisher might realize a $20 CPM. That result would spur the publisher to point as many users as possible to that that page in an effort to make the most of that page's "volume."
While that sounds like a smart content and ad strategy, publishers may find that they're actually not maximizing those sides of the business as well as they can. After all, people might go to the sports page, they look for a specific item about their team and they leave for other online activity.
"Those users provide about three pageviews and they generate a total of $30 CPM." Cadogan said, illustrating his hypothetical. "What if you found out that those users come to sports through the main news page and when they leave sports, they veer into recreation. While the CPMs may be lower for the first pageview, the experience is longer, deeper and richer – and it adds up to collectively higher revenues derived from CPMs. JumpTime’s analytics helps them make programming changes that feeds into that audience value, instead of direct audience buying."