Bauer Xcel Media's Christian Baesler Talks Header Bidding, Going Almost 100% Programmatic

Bauer Xcel Media, digital arm of global publisher Bauer Media, is interesting for a few reasons. It has no ad sales team (though a "brand" sales team can cross-sell some digital deals), and it's almost 100% programmatic.

Below is a Q&A with Christian Baesler, the company's president. It has been lightly condensed and edited.  

Real-Time Daily: What drove Bauer Xcel Media's decision to go nearly 100% programmatic?

Christian Baesler: It originally started out of a necessity. Because we were building the U.S. business from scratch with pretty much no audience at the time, monetizing via direct sales was not a viable option. Hence we started collaborating with programmatic partners that could monetize, no matter at what audience size, and scaled it up from there. We found that by using programmatic channels we were able to scale revenue in relation to traffic more effectively than with any direct sales approach, at a fraction of the cost, which was much more profitable for us. 

RTD: What's your outlook on header bidding?

Baesler: It has potential to become the new standard for buying with publishers. It finally allows a true competition across advertisers and programmatic channels with publisher needs in mind, which creates a more attractive environment for publishers' CPM (cost per thousand impressions)-wise, as they are finally able to unlock the full monetization potential at scale of the quality environment they provide. For it to fully succeed, there has to be standardization around technology and improvements on certain elements like the negative effect on page load time.

RTD: What are your predictions about programmatic in 2016?

Baesler: The number of relevant programmatic players will decrease, and the integration between them will continue to improve, so publishers will need to work with fewer partners to give as many advertisers as possible access to their inventory.

With more advertisers realizing the potential and risks of programmatic advertising, a bigger shift to quality environments and improved reward for such environments (higher CPM) will take place. [Improvements] can be for quantitative factors like viewability, data targeting and performance, as well as for qualitative factors such as a specific brand environment.

If advertisers are willing to put more spend towards better-performing environments, premium publishers like us, able to deliver these environments, will ultimately benefit and generate more revenue.

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