In a Time of Automated Platforms, Providing Differentiated Value

  |  February 22, 2011   |  Comments

The key element that's missing from automated platforms may simply be the human element.

The digital advertising industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Numerous automated platforms have emerged to make the buying process easier and more efficient. These platforms are literally changing the market in real time, and represent a significant opportunity for this industry. When you take a close look, it's important to ask a few questions, including how does one best measure the value of new platforms in terms of inventory, data, technology, and ultimately high ROI? The critical element that seems to be missing from these automated platforms, in ensuring value is delivered consistently across the board, may simply be the human element. Let's look at inventory, for example.

As the non-reserved ecosystem continues to evolve, there's a danger that platform access creates a "race to the bottom." While ad exchanges provide scalable access, there continues to be ambiguity surrounding the inventory that is available on the exchanges, such as user frequency, ad placement, and content adjacency. All of these considerations are not fully addressed today through ad exchanges. At the same time, having scalable and sophisticated technology infrastructure that enables integration and bidding on each of the major exchanges (or SSPs - pick your term of the week) is becoming table stakes to succeed.

In today's world of technology alternatives, publishers need to be prudent about how they address channel conflict, and make serious choices about what inventory they wish to expose in the exchange environment - what transparency is provided and what pricing floors and constraints are being established. Both of these are crucial considerations when considering the need to avoid a race to the bottom.

We have found that, by investing in direct publisher partnerships, we are able to treat our publisher partners as valued customers and not the proverbial pork belly. This provides greater transparency for ad placement from a content and session/frequency standpoint. In many cases, this means both higher yields for the publisher and better results for the advertiser.

If the last decade was about networks simply providing scalable access, this decade is about providing differentiated inventory access, scalable and superior technology, direct inventory access, and expertise in building partnerships.

Our marketing partners are seeking more than just access to audiences. For a customer who wants nothing more than simple audience targeting, the exchange platforms provide a way to achieve certain efficiencies. But, to solve the marketers' needs outside of just access to audiences, we believe it's about focusing on data and insights for our customers, creating differentiated inventory pools based on user session and direct inventory access, while at the same time, complementing these offerings with the best real-time bidding technology that the industry offers.

For the best success and greatest value, choose a partner that has:

  • Comprehensively worked with the large majority of automated platforms in the space, showing that they truly understand the landscape.
  • Invested in developing their own proprietary platform based on vast knowledge of client needs.
  • A business model that understands the value of direct publisher partnerships.
  • An integrated approach to technological solutions and real-time human insights and customer service.

At the end of the day, you want to partner with a company that understands the importance of your brand - its safety and reputation - and the industry as a whole. The right partner will provide a consultative approach to help you achieve your objectives.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dave Jacobs

As senior vice president of publisher services, Dave Jacobs oversees the continued growth of third-party publisher partnerships with AOL Advertising's industry-leading network, Advertising.com. Dave has held a number of different teams since joining Advertising.com in 2000. While heading up strategy and business development, he led AOL's acquisition of Lightningcast; he also played a key role in the creation of Advertising.com Japan, a joint venture with the Japanese firm Mitsui, in December 2006.

Prior to joining Advertising.com, Dave spent eight years at Arthur Andersen, most recently as senior consulting manager, spearheading a variety of national strategy and operational consulting engagements.

Dave holds a BS in business administration from Penn State University. When he is not cheering on Penn State football, Dave enjoys spending time outdoors with his family.

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