Commentary

ABC: Automate, But Coordinate

With apologies to “Glengarry Glen Ross,” and its ABC (“always be closing”) philosophy, the rise of programmatic means that publishers need to adopt a more holistic approach across all of their revenue channels.

The tradition for many digital sales teams has been to keep their inventory in just two distinct buckets.  The first is for direct-sold business; the second holds unsold inventory (but let’s not call it remnant).

Direct-sold has relied on the efforts of the sales team, with unsold inventory managed in isolation by operations, who use their best efforts to monetize.  Historically, such direct-sold inventory has always taken priority over inventory routed through other third-party channels (usually ad networks). To be successful today, however, implementing an effective programmatic strategy means that the walls between the sales and operations silos must come down. The teams need to talk.  

This need became apparent with the rise of private marketplace (PMP) deals. PMPs require the active engagement of both the operations and sales teams in advance of any deal.  Pre-campaign, operations needs to confirm inventory for the targeted audience segments. Post-launch, they need to monitor performance to ensure that a deal is delivering — adjusting as needed.

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The number of exchanges where inventory is available can also have an impact on PMP deals. Too many demand sources with access to the inventory can have a detrimental effect. As a trading desk or agency, why go to the trouble of setting up a Deal ID, when everything you need is available through several other supply sources through the open exchange?  These challenges can be better met if operations and sales have goals aligned, and talk to each other.

The coordination between operations and sales cannot be limited to just PMP; it needs to extend throughout the publishers’ RTB or open-exchange efforts.  The adoption of header bidding means publishers’ open inventory has the same priority as direct deals. While header bidding can give publishers the chance to optimize inventory at higher price points, it also has the potential to negatively impact delivery of both direct and PMP deals, if not properly managed.  

Real-time bidding (RTB), as directed by the ops team, can no longer exist on its own island. Open exchange activity can be an incredible intelligence tool for direct-sales teams in providing client activity in real time. However, it can also affect direct programmatic deals.  

Beyond just inventory availability, RTB still competes in some cases with PMP activity from the same advertiser.  Many brands are using PMP deals for fishing expeditions and then taking advantage of the abundance of valuable inventory in the open exchange.  Better communication between sales and operations teams can surface this behavior and create opportunities for increased publisher yield.

So make sure you to couple your RTB efforts with some real-time management of all your revenue channels.  Remember, for publishers: Coffee isn’t just for closers, it’s also for those who operate all of their programmatic revenue streams in a coordinated manner.

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