“The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.
Today's column is written by David Hills, managing director of strategy at The 614 Group.
There’s no place where complexity and the need to innovate is starker than at the intersection of campaign and account management.
As publishers increasingly use new and different sales channels, each requires different approaches to managing customer satisfaction and reporting in a way that demonstrates that publishers understand and respond to customer needs.
Campaign management is the management of ad pacing, quality and performance at the campaign level to meet client KPIs. It is often performed by campaign management or ad ops teams.
Account management is the overarching management of the agency or client relationship with the goal of generating revenue. Often defined as a sales function, account management is the reporting of campaign results and using customer feedback into inform future campaigns as part of a productive cycle of effort, reporting and interpretation.
What’s changed is the shift from two sales channels to a multichannel world. Publishers’ direct sales forces have long promoted their brands to customers and set the table for how they want the brand to be perceived by customers. That’s the traditional channel that most are expert at selling through, delivering satisfaction and reporting back on.
Years ago, when publishers sold their fill of direct, they’d simply backfill the rest with networks, which was the second sales channel. The network channel didn’t require much in the way of optimization or account management, so publishers focused on the direct channel, where they could tell their story, deliver good value and report back on it.
That’s not the case anymore. Both complexity and opportunity are exploding. Private marketplaces, header bidding and new formats continue to proliferate.
Each channel has distinct needs for managing campaigns and reporting results.
Publishers continue to use traditional direct sales to establish their brand value. Publishers demonstrate value by managing campaigns toward multiple KPIs and quality measures. Account management will continue to reinforce the brand value of audiences and report back on various KPIs and quality measures.
That’s quite different from PMP business from both a campaign and account management perspective. This sales channel introduces distance between publishers and customers that doesn’t exist in direct sales so publishers must bridge that distance through performance and reporting.
Since a PMP is a discrete allocation of audience and inventory, publishers need to focus on getting it to perform and ensuring customers are buying as much of it as possible. Campaign management is different in PMPs since KPIs and quality measures, such as viewable inventory, can be designed into the PMP. Campaign managers can focus on pushing KPI performance harder. Account managers can then report back on that and let the buyer know they could actually buy more of the PMP, using a share-of-voice calculation.
With header bidding, publishers supply a series of access points to audience and inventory. While we might think about header bidding as a replacement for a network waterfall, I think there’s a proactive way to manage campaigns and accounts here, though it’s subtler. The goal of header bidding is to get relevant fill at increasing prices. Campaign management here largely involves optimizing utilization rates, not having one demand partner dominate the header and increasing the rate paid over time.
While it might not be apparent that there’s any account management to be done with header bidding, I’d submit that as publishers better understand which combination of demand partners work best for them, there’s an account management opportunity. Here, simple emails or phone calls can call out to a partner that they’re losing opportunity to other partners. I think publishers provide a service to partners when this is done; if publishers give partners the chance to understand there’s more the partner can effectively spend with the publisher, there’s likely a better yield paid by the partner.
None of this has to be complex. The campaign and account management teams need to be structured and compensated in a way that provides incentives and workflow to encourage tight coordination, constant discussion of how to improve and recognition that each channel must be managed differently to achieve maximum yield and customer satisfaction.