But Sly said programmatic will benefit Scripps, which he claims offers better advertiser quality and higher CPMs than the ad networks it’s replacing.
“Programmatic takes care of whatever we don’t sell direct locally, and it allows us to drive a higher CPM than we used to with remnant,” Sly said.
Since Scripps has never had a strong national sales presence, there isn’t much sales conflict. “It’s allowed up to do business with brands and agencies we’ve never done before, because our local markets didn’t scale before,” Sly said.
One programmatic salesperson handles everything from trading desk relationships to managing Scripps’ inventory “like a stock trader,” Sly said, while two ad operations people take charge on programmatic, helping to set up partners in the tech stack and implement tags.
Scripps runs a networkwide private exchange, the Scripps Private Exchange, where it can provide advertisers additional transparency, like only buying on sports or weather-related content. “It used to be ‘spray and pray,’ buy as many impressions as they can. Now with the data they’re willing to pay more. That and the contextual relevance drives CPMs up,” Sly said.
It also participates in the Local Media Consortium (LMC). Through the LMC, Google sells Scripps inventory as part of a private exchange of local news sites. “We have a great relationship with Google and do a call with them every other week,” Sly said. It’s done deals with other programmatic buyers, like Centro, but that partner doesn’t drive a huge amount of revenue.
Scripps uses a DMP, but plans to harness more of its first-party data. The LMC may share data consortiumwide, with publishers collaborating to create the same data segments for large brand buyers.
It hasn’t yet expanded into programmatic direct, but plans to do so through the LMC and through FatTail, which built an ad ops order-management tool.
It all adds up to a formula of direct sales on a local level and programmatic for sales across all its properties. “We’re aggressively pursuing the programmatic side on the national level,” Sly said. “Over time we’re going to build more relationships, and focus on more private deals.”
In divesting themselves of newspapers and TV/radio holdings respectively, Scripps and Journal Media Group will also see regulatory benefits, since the FCC prevents media companies from owning TV stations and newspapers in the same market. Freed from these constraints, Scripps can expand into more markets.