Commentary

What's Behind Shift Back To Pub Direct?

The rise of open programmatic exchanges promised to help advertisers and agencies gain operational efficiency, secure better pricing, and improve targeting, thereby increasing ROI. Amid concerns about quality and transparency, however, publishers are also starting to see many advertising partners shift budgets back to direct channels, either via private marketplace deals (PMP) or through directly reserved inventory.

Why? In a word, access.  Beyond the trust that comes from working directly with a publisher, marketers are also capitalizing on the areas below that publishers can uniquely offer — important areas to consider when you have your next meeting with potential partners:  

1. New data streams. Marketers want access to new data streams. As the Interactive Advertising Bureau accurately predicted in its 2016 roundup, publishers are harnessing their first-party data to help advertisers reach their target audience more effectively. Unfortunately, marketers can’t access publisher first-party data when they buy on the open market. Publisher first-party data can provide insight into which consumers are in the market for a brand’s products, as well as into their in-the-moment intent. Marketers are increasingly blending their data with data from publishers, creating second-party datasets that are proprietary, valuable and secure.

2. Improved bidding strategies. As marketers have become more sophisticated and data-savvy, they are seeking more transparency. On open exchanges, marketers don’t have visibility into the bids they don’t win. Publishers see all bids, and can steer advertisers toward winning strategies, helping ensure campaigns get the users and impressions they need to be successful. Marketers increasingly look to publishing partners to find out, for example, “If I increased my bid by X%, how many more impressions would I win?” Helping them answer that question can lead to a deeper, more productive relationship.

3. Access to premium inventory. Just as marketers don’t get visibility into the bids they lose via a demand-side platform, they also understand that they likely aren’t seeing all of a publisher’s inventory when they bid in an auction. Most publishers hold back their highest performing inventory for direct and PMP buyers. In other words, if marketers aren’t working directly with a publisher, they might never get access to their most valuable users and impressions. Helping marketers understand the universe of your inventory is critical in order to drive the best performance.

4. Performance optimization. Client-side creative tags collect a limited amount of data from publisher pages. As marketers seek to close the loop on their campaigns, they are asking publishers for performance data beyond basic metrics like click-through rate (for example, dwell time, engagement rates, audience composition, and other behavioral data) that can improve campaign performance. Advertisers that take advantage of both buy-side and sell-side technology enable a blend of biddable and non-biddable inventory strategies to achieve the best ROI.

Whether they activate a campaign directly or via a PMP, marketers are increasingly taking advantage of the benefits of working directly with publishers. By getting access to unique audience, bid, and performance data, they are attempting to improve not only the outcomes of their publisher-direct campaigns, but also of their open-exchange campaigns, as well.

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