My Not-So-Easy, Must-Do List For Publishers

The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today's column is written by Erik Requidan, vice president of programmatic strategy at Intermarkets.

I spend a lot of time talking with other publishers. Some things we agree on and some things we don’t. Regardless of how much we differ with respect to publishing in general, most of us agree on a few must-dos.

It’s easy to get caught up thinking this laundry list of concerns will hold us back or is a burden to publishers, but solutions are necessary for both short-term and long-term success. The reality is that there is a ton of work to do if we are to continue being successful.

Direct deals must be more efficient and programmatic needs to be easier  

Direct deals and programmatic both have great hair and blemishes. No one wants 10 people copied on 60 emails to get a deal done. How is that efficient, by any standard? However, both are also prone to miscommunication and human errors. And both are hard to start and sometimes hard to finish. Let’s get better here.

Reevaluate technologies, all of them

Publishers must challenge their assumptions. Many feel the dominant ad server is either the best or only choice. Maybe your ad server doesn’t need to be your primary exchange and top buyer? Since we’re promoting a free and open internet, shouldn’t real competition exist? Publishers should hear other options out. It is not as crazy as it sounds.

Programmatic vs. legacy direct

The legacy salesforce faces growing pains, to say the least. What can be done to help it continue to evolve?

The in-house channel conflict must die, for starters. Competition between programmatic sales teams and legacy direct sales teams doesn’t make sense – and we are all better than that. It’s scary to hear tales of legacy-direct sales teams trying to take away from programmatic gains. Our clients and buy-side partners suffer in the confusion and could harm a company’s reputation. Publishers must find companies that are doing great with both and learn from them. They exist.

Establish a go-to-market strategy that unifies programmatic and direct 

This is essential because buyers need it. Buyers never ask to meet with a direct seller or indirect seller – they just want to run their ads within our pages in the most cost-efficient and effective way possible. They want results, and they’re not bothered about whether that goes through programmatic or direct sales.

Just as publishers have struggled with our industry’s rapid evolution, so too have our agency partners and their teams. We all suffer from the same pain points. Let’s be good partners and work together. Let’s teach, share and learn from each other. That’s how we all get better.

Transparency, brand safety and other buyer concerns

Did anyone think being transparent would be so hard? Both advertisers and buyers say they don’t trust digital advertising, but to publishers’ ears, advertisers and buyers are saying that they don’t trust us.

In reality, it’s the middlemen they don’t trust, but at the end of the day, many publishers still feel like we’re being left in the dark. The rules and definitions for “brand-safe environments” keep changing – the goal posts are always moving. We have to make sure there is zero confusion on the differences between fraud, viewability and brand safety, since they seem interchangeable in industry conversations.

On top of that, if we shut out the bad guys, things will improve pretty dramatically for the good guys.

Reduce the intermediaries

A good friend of mine and fellow publisher says, “Everyone’s got their hands in our pockets.” We must retain quality partners, but reduce the overall number of connections. Every intermediary must be paid too, but it is much easier to share profits with worthy partners.

GDPR compliance  

Publishers are not excited about this. It seems like we’re taking on all the risk, and we’re simultaneously bracing ourselves for some really bad advertising. But we’ve got to do it. Many people worked hard to be ready for May 25. Be sure to thank your data protection officers, legal teams, ops teams and ad tech partners. They deserve a pat on the back for all the work they’ve put in. GDPR will evolve, and so will we.

Support consortiums

There are a ton of efforts, from industry organizations and consortiums, pushing for a better online advertising ecosystem for everyone. Publishers must support these efforts. DigiTrust, Advertising ID Consortium, TrustX and Ads.txt are only a few of these initiatives. Yes, this can be overwhelming because there is so much to do, but we must band together, join these efforts and get it done.

It’s not easy being a publisher these days and there’s a lot to grumble about, but really, these are all things we must do. We have to take on the good, the bad and the awkward to build a better internet, and it’s time to get to work.

Follow Erik Requidan (@Requidan), Intermarkets (@intermarkets) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

 

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