Sara Badler director of programmatic advertising for The New York Times, manages programmatic ad sales, working with demand-side platforms (DSPs) and a direct sales basis. She has team members in the U.S., Singapore, and London.
Badler spoke with Digital News Daily about programmatic at the Times, emphasizing that the approach is to transact in the same way that direct ad sales are done—the only difference is technology.Digital News Daily: Can you explain how you work with clients?
Sara Badler: If you want to do a private marketplace (PMP) deal or a programmatic deal, talk to us. We don’t work with any ad networks. None of our video is on the open marketplace. We work directly with our clients to ensure they’re buying safely and in a safe environment on our site. I feel like publishers have embraced programmatic buying, but the caveat is that we work with our ad tech partners to make sure that things run safely.
We want to make sure there’s clarity and transparency on each of our PMP deals.
DND: There’s so much jargon in ad tech and martech. How do you think about it all?
Badler: There are so many different terms for PMP deals. There’s preferred guaranteed, which is something in between a programmatic guaranteed and a preferred deal.
Marketers, agencies, and publishers must be clear on what these tools are and how to execute them. For example, preferred guaranteed runs at a higher priority than a preferred deal will, has a higher CPM, and a higher sell rate. We’re not actively selling this kind of deal, but we can. Clients are starting to ask for it. We’re looking at what the best and most efficient way is to transact for each client.
DND: Many advertisers and publishers complain about having too many ad tech partners. What’s your experience?
Badler: We don’t have so many vendors. We have a handful of partners that help us transact through the technology, but we still have the direct client relationship. For ad tech partners, we work with DFP [Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers] as our ad server, a few SSPs [supply-side platforms], and that’s it. Our main objective is working with our clients through these platforms.
DND: Does the Times have an in-house trading desk set-up?
Badler: We could act as an in-house trading desk. If a client has those needs, we can execute them. We’ve had some clients request it. But I don’t think it’s a business we’re actively going into.
DND:Brand safety concerns have dominated the marketplace. What’s your take?
Badler: It’s a huge part of the conversation. We’re hearing that a lot of people want to work directly with publishers because of these concerns. This idea of having so many middlemen isn’t interesting for people anymore. Our clients want to know who they’re working with and how deals work, and they want transparency into the fees.
We’re showing all the different ways of transacting. We’re finally at a stage where people care about this. I think it’s turning into more of a partnership with clients. We work with media agencies, and some of our clients are using trading desks and managed services. We’re looking at the best way to work with each of our clients.
DND: What kind of uptake are you seeing with the native ad formats the Times makes available programmatically: Flex Frame and Google Native?
Badler: Clients seem to be very excited about the new offerings and formats. They’re driving very high ROI for clients. On Flex Frame, we’re working with Google to have it run programmatically and with programmatic guaranteed.
Google Native runs through preferred deals. The Times is enabled to run Google Native, so clients just place creative through that unit, and it will be automated.
DND: Given the number and types of native ad units available, what are the challenges for programmatic when it comes to native?
Badler: I think we’re working through that now. The challenge is making native ad offerings unique for our clients, but also making the campaigns scaleable for the marketplaces. Clients want native but it doesn’t replace standard 300 x 250 formats.