Conde Nast's Programmatic Chief On Leveraging Its 'Great Asset': 1st-Party Data

In the process of ramping up its programmatic offerings, Condé Nast is focused on marrying its first-party data with content to create large-scale opportunities for advertisers. In February, the publisher signaled its commitment to the category by appointing Evan Adlman head of programmatic.

Adlman, former VP publisher development, Americas for PubMatic, is the man responsible for creating programmatic opportunities for well-known brands that include Vogue, Vanity Fair, Glamour, GQ and The New Yorker.

Real-Time Daily chatted with Adlman to learn more about what he has planned.

Real-Time Daily: Is Condé Nast new to the programmatic landscape?

Evan Adlman:  Programmatic is something that Condé Nast has been in for many years. We’ve had a strategy in place.



My focus is to think about new ways that we can fit programmatic into a holistic media buy. The new capabilities that we announced recently involve offerings that will align brands with new content packages, the ability to use our first-party data, and the opportunity to create scale by leveraging AudienceSelect.

Condé Nast sits on a great asset: data from our subscribers. Through our Brand Preference Index database, we survey our consumers monthly via email to understand what’s going in in their lives and the categories they’re most interested in. Then we’re segmenting audiences in conjunction with content that our consumers are most interested in.

With AudienceSelect, we want to offer our clients as much scale as possible. We want to provide a vehicle for advertisers to use to target consumers off-site. We can enable them to target these audiences based on our first-party data on syndicated properties and on the Web at large. We didn’t have that capability before.

We can leverage the first-party data of a Condé Nast consumer and follow that person across their journey throughout the Web—across syndicated properties and outside of them as well.

RTD: What are your goals for programmatic at Condé Nast?

Adlman:  To provide clear paths to do two things: One, muscle up on our native and video programmatic offerings. Our goal is to make sure that we have the products and technology in-house to enable us to do that.

Second, header bidding. It offers the ability for a programmatic buyer to have greater access to our inventory while protecting our direct business at the same time.

We began doing header bidding in January 2016 and use more than one vendor for it. Our focus is trying to figure out where the unique demand sets lie. And, there are vendors that offer the buying community unique services.

We have a very strong direct-sales business that we protect.  There are some ad products that can’t compete in the header, like road blocks, sponsorships and takeovers.

RTD: What have you learned in the nearly four months since you started doing header bidding?

Adlman:  One thing is that no two header bidders are alike. The implementations and management are very different among all the vendors. There’s no standard protocol on how they operate.

Each one has its own kind of uniqueness regarding the code on the page and the amount of time it takes for each type of bidder to respond. We’re trying to learn how this affects our yield, the user experience and the page load experience.

We’re using fewer than five vendors for header bidding. We’re trying to figure out what the sweet spot is. We’ll do testing during the second quarter to determine the right number.

We have a very large product and engineering team that’s dong all the set-up, integrations and management of the bidders in-house. We don’t outsource the integration into the header. 

Overall, we’re trying to think about header bidding as a tactic that allows us to become much closer to the buyer.

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