The Publisher vs. Ad Network thread is among the industry's oldest and most provocative. There's been a requisite panel about it at nearly every conference over the past few years, and just when the debate seems to simmer down, another flare-up puts it back on everyone's radar. Technology is bringing change, but strategy and policy is a big part of the solution. Here are a few suggestions to help publishers navigate these waters:
- Develop an inventory management strategy and socialize it across your entire organization.
Practices like selling the same inventory simultaneously on multiple exchanges are open invitations to arbitrageurs and can be deadly to your bottom line without the proper approach and analytics.
- The world has enough "blind" inventory. The value of inventory without provenance or context is essentially zero, and networks won't buy it. If you choose to sell blind on an exchange, maintain pricing discipline by setting floors across categories and audiences.
- Demand transparency. Ask your networks for an advertiser list for what they're running right now, and if you're using RTB, ask your technology partner. Not enough publishers do this, and it fosters more business and better relationships.
- Stop the reselling. Advise your networks that if they don't have the demand, it is NOT ok to source demand from other networks, especially via the exchanges. This is your best route to eliminating low-quality creative and malware.
I'd be remiss if I didn't say it: yield optimizers have gone a long way towards smoothing these relationships and simplifying transactions. Many of the publishers still grappling with these issues would benefit from engaging one. As the landscape becomes more complex, it pays to have a partner that can apportion your inventory correctly and has the relationships and technical capabilities to aggressively enforce your business rules.