Why Programmatic Works For This Smaller Publisher

Brandon Dawson, programmatic ads director at Render Media, an L.A.-based digital media company co-founded by Eytan Elbaz, creator of Google AdSense, thinks he has the formula to make programmatic successful.

The media company owns and operates Cooking Panda and Opposing Views, two properties that typically get more than 50 million unique visitors monthly. Render has a sales team, but more than 95% of the ads on these pages are sold programmatically, and Dawson insists the user experience does not suffer and neither does revenue.

Render has a page load time out, which means if the ads don't serve in 1.5 seconds, the ad server times out and the platform goes to the next ad and fills the space through another source, Dawson said. 

The load time on the sites is much faster than for some of the company's biggest competitors. And rather than serve site visitors intrusive ads, the publications have begun to adopt header bidding for video, allowing each publisher to serve relevant, pre-roll ads. No video ads are stuck to the bottom of the page.



Render managed to pass Google's preliminary test for "failing ads" based on the Better Ads Coalition the first time, and implemented ads.txt code, which more than 85% of publishers have not done.

Render Media also owns Watchthis! and AmericaNow. Both sites are stripped of content-recommendation widgets, so there's no undesirable clickbait content disrupting visitor experiences. The company took an initial hit in revenue. "But we changed our page layout and made other changes that compensated for the loss," Dawson said. "Revenue stabilized and eventually grew."

Render works with Google native ads and Amazon's Transparent Ad Marketplace, which is a server-to-server solution, Dawson said. "We have a beta partner working with them to roll in exchanges and test what works and what doesn't," he said.

Render also recently began branching out onto OTT platforms. The option becomes available since the company produces all its own content in-house. "Getting on TV makes sense to us because we put things together like a cooking series," he said. "We still drive a ton of traffic to our website. That's where most of our revenue comes from, but OTT is a huge push for us in 2018."


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