Programmatic Selling Advice

  |  March 10, 2014   |  Comments

Recently, the ad tech industry has heard a lot of buzz surrounding programmatic selling and the impact on the direct sales channel of publishers. Here are a few things that programmatic sellers need to consider when making inventory available to buyers to create value for their publisher partners.

Recently, the ad tech industry has heard a lot of buzz surrounding programmatic selling and the impact on the direct sales channel of publishers. It is nearly impossible to read a trade site and not see an article reporting the swing toward programmatic selling, and how it completely changes the way publishers should sell and package their inventory.

We believe that programmatic buying is the most effective way to transact and drive efficiency for both publishers and clients. Since Xaxis merged with 24/7 Media, we have moved from purely a buyer of media programmatically to helping publishers understand the best way to present and package their inventory for companies (like us) to buy. This is not always an easy process, and when publishers make their inventory available for programmatic buying, there are a number of key items which they need to consider.

However, before we dive into these guidelines, we need to make sure we’re clear on what we mean by "programmatic," as this term is commonly thrown around the market space with multiple interpretations. Programmatic is the automation of the media buying process using an electronic system to eliminate manual steps. This can include using an auction process, or simplifying the steps by buying a single piece of media at a flat fee. Some people use "programmatic" interchangeably with "exchange-based buying," which isn't always an accurate description. There are many ways to programmatically source and sell inventory, so we need to be careful to thoroughly describe our intentions when working with partners.

Here are a few things that programmatic sellers need to consider when making inventory available to buyers to create value for their publisher partners:

1. Viewability and Transparency

Publishers need to take a hard look at their ad load, eliminate stacked ads or refreshing ads, make larger ad units available, and position their ads in highly viewable areas. Giving buyers domain-level transparency at a minimum in the bid request builds confidence and ensures that their white/black lists are respected.

2. Packaging

When making inventory available for sale, publishers should think about the general categories and audiences that they can append to the bid request to further enrich the inventory, and give buyers additional signals to buy and optimize against.

3. Price

Creating multiple tiers or placements gives the seller an opportunity to manage more granular pricing, and aligns prices with market demand. Buyers will be more willing to pay higher prices for high-quality inventory, but when it is mixed with below-the-fold or high frequency inventory, they tend to bid at the lowest possible levels.

4. Preferred Access

When targeting the largest and more strategic buyers, publishers should look to make certain that unique inventory is available on a first-look basis. This will increase spend levels with those buyers and drive up scarcity on their open market inventory.

5. Data

Along with packaging inventory, some buyers like Xaxis are capable of ingesting unique, anonymous publisher data to help make better buying and creative delivery decisions. Working in an open and honest framework of how data could be shared with a few strategic buyers will go a long way to maximizing spend from clients, and creating a preferred relationship between the buyer and publisher.

By paying close attention to these ground rules and forming strategic relationships with the largest buyers, you will see your revenues grow, your clients satisfied, and a dramatically improved user experience for your audiences.


Larry  Allen

Larry Allen is SVP, Global Platform Sales for Xaxis. He has responsibility for overseeing solutions for publishers including Xaxis for Publishers, Xaxis Exchange, and Xaxis Marketplace globally.

Larry has extensive experience in digital media, marketing, and business strategy unmatched by most standards. Prior to joining 24/7 Media (which merged with Xaxis in 2014), he held senior management positions at cutting-edge digital media companies such as AOL, Viewpoint, Unicast, Yieldex, Real Media, and TACODA.

Larry also ran his own consulting business where he advised many major media companies such as The New York Times, Meredith, 33Across, and Business Insider. He is a frequent contributor to a number of trade publications, blogs, and industry conferences.

A graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Business Management, Larry is based in Xaxis' headquarters in New York City.

Follow him on Twitter at @lawrenceallen2.

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