Publishers have increasingly embraced products that provide more insight into their inventory and help them manage their ad operations. Yesterday at a panel discussion moderated by Yieldex CRO Andrew Rutledge at ad:tech New York, executives from Fox News Digital, Viacom, Washington Post Digital and Turner Broadcasting discussed the tools they’re using to better leverage ad opportunities as well as the issues they face in trying to drive more revenue.
Viewability—and the lack of standards for determining whether consumers actually saw an ad—continues to be a headache for publishers. With the Media Ratings Council expected to lift its warning against transacting on viewable impressions by the end of the year, publishers are even more wary about advertisers’ demands for viewability metrics.
“Viewability is the lowest common denominator, or soon will be…and major players will be asking us to use CPV [cost per view],” said Joey Trotz, vice president of advertising tech strategy at Turner Broadcasting. “Those systems typically push inventory down by 20% to 40%, which will be a major change for publishers.”
Michael Greenspan, SVP of digital advertising operations at Viacom, pointed to the lack of viewability standards as a major challenge. “The difficulty we find is we’re using certain tools and metrics but then the buy side is using a different company with a different way of measuring data,” Greenspan said. “We need standards so we can get to the same data the same way.”
Deravanh Campbell, director of ad operations at Fox News Digital, described viewability as “the new buzzword” but noted that it has provided greater insight into their inventory. “We did some tests and found that ads below the fold actually have some good engagement since people are scrolling down to read the articles. This dispels the belief that above-the-fold has the most viewability,” she said.
Jeff Burkett, senior director at Washington Post Digital, agreed. “Viewability," he noted, “has taught us to focus on why particular ads in particular places perform better.” In moving the discussion to whether publishers can leverage ad technology to drive revenue, Rutledge commented that demand-side platforms (DSPs) are “the new ad networks” and asked the panelists if they were working with DSPs to make smarter decisions.
Burkett commented that while companies previously worked with ad networks, DSPs give users greater control over their own inventory and data. With a DSP, you “know how much you paid for every impression,” commented Burkett, “versus before when it was a black box network and you had flat rates for all your campaigns.”
Rutledge pointed to a potential downfall behind DSPs and claimed that he was not “convinced there’s not an opportunity for aribitrage for the DSP.” If a DSP, he continued, were to “ask Pepsi [for example], ‘what’s your budget?’ And Pepsi says ‘I’ve got a $50 CPM and I want to run this highly targeted audience.’ Who’s to say the DSP doesn’t put it in there as $30 and pocket the difference?”
While none of the panelists had an answer to Rutledge’s question, Turner’s Trotz pointed to data management platforms (DMPs) as another example of an ad-driven technology that publishers can leverage to provide insight into client campaigns. “We’re using DMPs to say, ‘okay Coca-Cola, you have this index of shoppers, or this many homes with this many kids,” Trotz said. “It’s taking that third-party data and our DMP and providing custom analytics that tell a story that proves the value of what a premium environment is like to support sponsorship sales and not just the direct response stuff that clients are used to.”