Operative whittled down Bauer’s demand partners to fewer than 10, picking the ones with the highest performance using “real CPM,” which multiplies CPM by fill rate.
It standardized floor prices on different exchanges. Buyers could previously shop around to find the lowest price. Now, floor prices on all exchanges are identical.
Operative moved Bauer from small-business DFP [DoubleClick for Publishers] to DFP Premium. That enabled it to create a more granular product catalog. For example, Bauer could separate and package specific inventory for advertisers, such as J-14 content about Justin Bieber or Selena Gomez.
“With more granular and descriptive offerings, we see a lift across the open exchange,” noted Kiernan Collins, Operative’s services architect.
Those changes helped boost average CPMs by 89% from Q1 2014 to Q1 2015.
Bauer maintains that lift by using Operative’s technology to make daily adjustments to ensure the highest performing exchanges serve the most impressions. On a weekly basis, Bauer adjusts floor prices.
Outside of the ad server, Baesler is optimistic about the ability for header bidding to increase demand, calling it a “publisher-centric” technology that’s “better for the industry and [which] creates more efficiency.” Bauer’s sites work with Amazon A9, Sonobi and Yieldbot, but so far bidding rates are low with these header partners, which are picky about impressions.
With its programmatic pipes optimized, Bauer is looking ahead to other direct response-focused ways it can earn money digitally.
“Our long-term strategy at Bauer is to move beyond standard display advertising to transactional models,” Baesler said. The strategy fit Bauer’s direct marketing approach to the business.
He is eyeing the content-commerce models of PopSugar and Thrillist. The corporate buy-in for a content-commerce strategy, as well as the resources to execute them, already exist. Bauer Media, an international brand, owns a flight comparison tool in Germany and the largest classifieds site in Australia.
To determine which shopping opportunities best fit its readers, Bauer is creating a proprietary data-management platform to capture user data. The data will help Bauer create personalized product recommendations, from which it will take a cut of resulting sales. Look for a rollout in the next year.
“In order to build up a big business,” Baesler said, “we feel like we have to be in the transactional space.”