AdExchanger | The Sell Sider

"The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Jaclyn Stewart, senior director of strategy at The 614 Group.

Many publishers today are wrestling with whether they should decouple their data from their impressions. Do they want to help advertisers understand their audiences and even reach them outside of the existing website or only offer that access as part of media buys? The consideration is complicating what should be a simple new sales channel. For publishers that already have a data management platform (DMP), the channel already exists for them.

A DMP is a data sales channel as much as it is a piece of technology or platform. It has as much – if not more – to do with sales, account and campaign management as it does with media publishers’ products and infrastructure, As such, it needs to be addressed as a channel more than technology.

Consider the characteristics that define a sales channel:

  • It allows for a product to be distributed to customers.
  • It lets customers buy different products in a new way.
  • It has its own sales, account and campaign management needs.

In our business, increasing the amount of opportunities for customers to spend with publishers should be strategic and something publishers spend time thinking through. As brands and agencies continue to winnow down the number of publishers and other partners they use, the ones that provide more buying options will maintain their status with key accounts. Those that do not run the risk of being cut from plans in the future.

If publishers are unhappy with their DMP or haven’t seen the return they were expecting, they should start to think about their DMP as simply a data sales channel. From this perspective, they should see numerous possibilities for revenue.

Before they can fully leverage their DMPs, publishers must understand what they are trying to accomplish from a customer perspective. Is their goal to gain market share, maintain the status quo or retain customers whose buying habits have changed? While all three can be accomplished through use of a DMP, their initial objectives will help determine how wide their sales deployment strategy needs to be.

Next, publishers should speak with clients about their data needs. They'll likely learn that the data buys their clients make are different than the media buys normally placed with them. These conversations will also shed light on how clients view their consumers, providing publishers direction on how to create data segments that will perform for clients. This upfront work will help publishers understand their customers’ data needs versus media, and it’s always better to be aligned with their customer. Publishers are also potentially tapping into new budgets and building deeper relationships with their customers.

Once publishers understand what data is interesting to their clients and how they’d like to see it segmented, it is critical that publishers have the infrastructure and processes in place to support this new channel. Examine the sales, account management and campaign management needs of data versus direct media buys. Data has unique planning and workflow needs, and they’re important to understand and master to scale the business.

Publishers should map a data-only workflow and compare this to their current processes and systems to see where there are gaps in resources. It's always a good idea to test the new workflow in practice before training or restructuring a team to ensure it’s as efficient and effective as possible before dedicating a lot of time and resources to training.

To gauge and maintain success, publishers should define what a successful data campaign looks like for their clients and set that as their teams’ goal. They’ll need to know what kind of performance metrics they should track and how they will report those to clients. Reporting and optimizing for performance based on your clients’ feedback and direction will be the key to the success of this new product.

Publishers should also assess what the ideal average deal size would be and how long it should run. If they don’t look at the difference in the deal sizes between data and display upfront, they may misapply sales resources, expecting the deals to be the same. Data buys tend to be smaller and more incremental than the average media campaign.

For example, a large financial customer working with a publisher client may sign a six-figure deal in the beginning of the year but spend almost weekly on data. Understanding the different beat to this business is the key.

At the end of the day, a publisher’s customers already understand its value, so that part of the sale is done. A publisher’s customers already know its audience and capabilities and vice versa. Plus, customers already are spending money on data in addition to media. This makes leveraging a DMP to open up data as a new revenue channel low-hanging fruit.

There’s always the concern about cannibalization by companies entering the data marketplace. However, by offering clients something new, publishers also get more of the old. The DMP is a potent sales channel with the power to deepen existing relationships and create more opportunity.

Follow Jaclyn Stewart (@614GroupJackie), The 614 Group (@614group) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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