As such, Forrester analyst and report author Michael Greene recommends that publishers meet client needs by "investing in creative capabilities, complementing sales and ops teams with strong technology and focusing on developing high-quality audiences."
This past June, Forrester surveyed agency media buyers about the current and projected state of their media-buying practices on behalf of their interactive-marketing clients.
It found that buyers rely on a range of media execution partners. "A strong majority of buyers buy through a variety of direct and indirect sales channels," according to Greene. Indeed, 58% of display buyers reported that they buy through a mix of direct sales, ad networks and DSPs/trading desks.
Programmatic buying is also becoming a preferred buying method, Forrester found, as sales teams may be caught up playing phone tag with buyers, while buyers are quickly embracing the workflow efficiencies of programmatic buying -- typically through real-time bidding.
In fact, 10% of buyers already manage a majority of their buys through programmatic methods, while another 48% of display buyers indicated they handle through an even mix of programmatic and conventional buying methods.
Also of note, substantial money is flowing to audience-targeted buys, per Forrester. Indeed, while content-based buys continue to make up the bulk of publisher display revenues, media buyers indicated that their budgets are shifting toward audience-targeted buys. In fact, 35% of buyers spend a majority of their display budgets on audience-targeted buys.
Forrester found that publisher scale doesn't matter unless it delivers audience reach. "With the exception of perhaps Yahoo, no individual digital publisher can deliver the scale across all audience targets of network TV," Greene added. Recognizing this, buyers care much more about a digital publisher's ability to help them find a particular audience segment.
As a result, reach to a specific audience segment and audience targeting capabilities are the top two criteria buyers look for in a publisher partner.
Meanwhile, brand buying maintains a footing as many publishers associate innovations like audience targeting and programmatic buying with pure direct-response buyers -- rarely a lucrative target for premium content providers, Forrester notes. But even when applying these new methods, brand building plays a major role. Indeed, 40% of buyers indicate that they buy primarily to meet branding metrics.
Going forward, buyers plan to spend more on targeting and high-impact creative. While 28% of buyers plan to rest on their laurels and leave their media relationships largely unchanged over the next three years, many are re-evaluating where they put the bulk of their display spending.
What's more, 30% plan to focus the bulk of their buys on "high-impact" placements, like custom sponsorships and in-stream video, while 43% plan to push audience targeting to the forefront of their display plans.