It’s A Seller’s Market

jayfriedman-sellsiderThe Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Jay Friedman, COO at Goodway Group.

For years it was an accepted truth: Buyers held the power in the digital advertising industry. Ad tech had effectively transferred control from sellers to buyers.

When programmatic and RTB exposed unsold inventory among publishers, publishers had no choice but to offload it at steep discounts in a “something is better than nothing” approach to yield management. This theory prevailed in part because many believed that with display advertising “there’s simply more quality supply than quality demand.”

Now we know this isn’t true. These types of sentiments emerged during the early days of measuring viewability and fraud levels. But as these technologies became more widely adopted, the market made certain discoveries that revealed the real fundamental truth: There is less quality supply than we previously thought.

I don’t believe fraud rates are as high as some headlines suggest; we clearly don’t want to spend money on fraud and can now better avoid it. Viewability technology is directional, but directional is better than not knowing at all. We all want our ads to actually be seen.

Just as these tools have exposed the lack of quality around some inventory, they also give publishers immense control over their ability to provide advertisers with quality users and inventory they’re seeking.

There are several ways that publishers can use these market conditions to their advantage.

100% Viewable, Rotated Inventory

A floating ad, as can be seen at, loads on the lower left side of the screen but never goes out of view, no matter how much a user scrolls. Publishers that adopt this type of unit are nearly guaranteed viewability with real human users. Furthermore, one piece of research presented at a recent AdExchanger conference showed that what creates the most lift for a campaign is a combination of time in view and frequency, not time in view alone. The maximum lift occurred when 55 to 60 seconds total in-view time was achieved – across nine impressions.

This means that ads being in view for more than 20 seconds at a time aren’t necessarily more valuable than ads that are in view for just a few seconds. Publishers should rotate their floating ad creative on a timed basis to allow for maximum yield but also the most advertiser benefit from that ad unit per user.

Controlling Fraud

There is no shortage of fraud detection companies in the ad tech space willing to partner with a publisher to identify and help reduce fraud. Some publishers see these companies as toll collectors that go to agencies and suggest that they force publishers into paying high CPMs on behalf of the agency.

Instead, publishers should take a stand, especially the largest publishers. Publishers should select a fraud detection partner and reduce fraud levels to below 2%. Agencies and marketers can be told that 100% of a publisher’s inventory is independently certified, and another vendor isn’t needed – resulting in less money and far fewer headaches for publishers.

Ad Blocking

Just recently I opened my browser and saw a headline that looked interesting. I was just about to click it when I saw the publisher behind it and stopped myself. That specific publisher always uses a timed interstitial and then loads more than 50 tags in my browser just to read an article.

With publishers like this, is it any wonder consumers have taken to ad blocking?

Publishers got themselves into this mess, but publishers can easily get themselves out. Creating a desirable experience that doesn’t overtly take advantage of users’ time and the data they generate is doable. In combination with these other factors, publishers can ask users to disable ad blocking while still generating significant yield. Plus, reducing the tags on a site enables greater control of a publisher’s own data and enables additional revenue through audience extension.

Audience Extension

Quality publishers typically have quality users. Publishers should work with a data management platform to intelligently segment their sites and capture user intent and interest to enable user categorization. This can help advertisers reach those same users across the digital ecosystem for greater impact.

This additional source of revenue can be significant to publishers with specialized, desirable content. Combined with the other factors above, audience extension is the final step for publishers to take advantage of the current digital landscape and maximize their assets.

Follow Jay Friedman (@jaymfriedman) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.


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