Congrats to the IAB on their lunch and learn event, "An Out of the Box Lunch with AdMeld, PubMatic, The Rubicon Project and YieldBuild," in NYC last Thursday. It was a study in how players in the advertising space – in this case, yield optimizers – can work together in order to enhance each other's value.
Attendees were from a broad cross-section of ad networks and publishers – large and small. And, everyone in the room wanted one question answered, "How do I make more money?"
The yield optimizers answered.
In part, the optimizers in-person presentation included a basic how-to on yield optimization. We won't cover that segment of the presentation at the IAB's request. Needless to say, optimizing yield at scale is an imposing barrier requiring serious tech and smarts - something each of these companies have aggregated in driving publisher adoption and demand-side interest.
YieldBuild's CEO, Paul Edmondson, led off the discussion providing an overview of ad optimization and he debunked the myths of advertising, as it were:
- More ads = more revenue
- Bigger is better
- Ads that blend or contrast always perform best.
- When you've found the best performing layout, frequency capped and geo-targeted, your optimization worries are over.
- All site visitors react the same way to ads.
Edmondson discussed creative and performance for publishers as it relates to ad networks:
"What ad networks really need is to deliver the performance metrics that their advertisers are expecting. The things you can do with placement is probably the most difficult thing to improve because it takes development cycles, you can't just slap an ad network in and get going. But, it's one of the most important things you can do – to increase the value of your inventory – figure out where on the page your ad should go such that users will respond to them."
Next up was CTO Brian Adams of AdMeld who informed the audience on how ad optimization works.
Adams offered anecdotal evidence of how bursts of publisher traffic can occur out of nowhere and that the yield companies represented offer a solution. He also suggested real-time bidding is "in play" at AdMeld.
"Paul [Edmondson] talked about fluctuation and I can't emphasize that enough. We ran on several publishers throughout the whole election season in 2008. We saw everything – the Palin nomination, any time news came out. We could literally have a publisher have a 300% increase in three days and then drop. When you have things that are being done by hand, on every single call, there's just no way that you can deal with traffic spikes effectively.
(later, while viewing slides) Real-time bidding we mentioned. We're putting it in the mix but we're waiting to see real revenue to come from there."
The third speaker was Rubicon Project CEO Frank Addante who took users through an overview on the state of the market.
Addante counciled that the economy has changed everything and publishers need to be aware that it will be harder and harder to make money as impression levels/inventory continue to grow on the Web among other pain points.
He suggested that publishers gain control by:
- Diversifying beyond ad networks
- Publishers should band together - (this is very "Kum Bay Yah") Scale can open opportunities.
- Always stay aware of new trends.
- Get a technology-driven partner (as in a yield optimizer).
Regarding creating value, Addante went on to say:
"Now is the time for publishers to help shift a lot of these dollars away from search towards premium-type content, audience targeting and leveraging the brands rather than just reach and frequency like the Googles and Yahoo!s have done.
Another part of this is leveraging the economy in such a way where - let's combat things like CPM deflation by leveraging data to make these impressions more valuable. Also, with international, that's something that we haven't paid attention to as an industry before. Lots of untapped opportunity there."
PubMatic's VP of Business Development, Jeane Howeling, closed the presentation loop with a talk about "The Future of Optimization" noting, for example, that display ad spend is going up 10% in 2010 according to eMarketer and Forrester. Innovation will be key to increasing publisher revenue, lowering ad ops costs and improving campaign peformance.
Howeling identified PubMatic's use of real-time, impression-level bidding (RTB) technology as another tactic that will improve publishers' lives and added that publishers need to stop thinking of their unsold inventory as "remnant," but rather, as a secondary channel:
"You can't look at your inventory as remnant. Remnant is an ugly word. It's really having multiple sales channels. Look at the retail industry – they have their stores, online retailers, resellers. You need to look at it as multiple channels – your direct sold channel and then what do you do with the remainder of your inventory that hasn't been sold by your sales team – your secondary sales channel."
The Last Scraps
A next step in this type of presentation would be how each yield optimizer differentiates. A volatile, but entertaining discussion would likely ensue.
Overall, it was great to see the optimizers come together for the good of the publishing and ad network community.
Kum Bay Yah.