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"Publishers need to use tech & automation in online advertising to their advantage"

This week, Admeld announced a new series of funding and a number of publisher clients it is now working with in the UK.

Tom Jenen
We spoke to Tom Jenen, AdMeld's Commercial Director, EMEA about real-time bidding (RTB) and demand side platforms, their effect on publishers' direct sell, ad networks and CPMs.

Are demand side platforms and real-time bidding (RTB) an opportunity or a threat for publishers?

Globally, advertisers will spend hundreds of millions of dollars via RTB in 2010. With ad spend doubling every quarter with us alone, this will most likely go into the billions in 2010.

For premium publishers, using the right tools to manage how they sell and to whom they sell, this represents a huge opportunity to capture these spends.

In addition, the impression-level transparency that RTB provides to publishers is something they never had previously. For the first time, they can see not only what people are bidding on their impressions, but what segments of their audience represent the greatest revenue opportunities.

This is something we’ve put a lot of work into developing, and publishers can use this data to bolster their direct sales. It’s still early in the game, but publishers who are thinking progressively about this space have an advantage.

How can publishers avoid technology and automation in online advertising eating into their direct sell?

The best way for publishers to avoid technology and automation from eating into their direct sell is to use technology and automation proactively to their advantage. In other words, fight fire with fire.

That means using a platform that enables them to fight channel conflict on a number of levels by setting price floors against certain buyers or even blocking them all together. It’s also critical for publishers to be careful how they allocate their inventory - selling across multiple exchanges simultaneously can encourage arbitrage.

The proliferation of ad networks has been held responsible in some quarters for a lowering of CPMs – is there a growing argument for premium publishers to cut off all the networks, or build their own?

First of all, it appears from recent data that CPMs are rebounding somewhat—and certainly the data says that CPMs coming through RTB are 2-3 times what they are via traditional ad networks.

That said, for publishers who are convinced they need to cut off all networks or build their own, there are only a handful who have the scale, brand and leverage in the marketplace to make that work on their own, and for many of those, online ads represent a small part of their overall revenues.

The final piece is technology – networks simply must become technology leaders to compete. It’s simply not a viable solution for most publishers.

We say: use all available sources of demand, but be smart about it. It’s about achieving a middle ground.

There’s been a lot of talk from agency community about retargeting individual users via real time bidding. How will this impact publishers, and do they stand to lose or gain?

First of all, it’s worth saying that buyers have been retargeting individual users long before RTB. This is something that’s possible via ad network tags, so while concerns about this are certainly valid, it’s important not to overstate the role of RTB here.

In fact, in some ways, RTB is even more secure than other methods. This aside, today there are a handful of things publishers can do to limit this type of activity, including working with partners like AdMeld to enforce strict data use policies with buyers.

There are a lot of smart people working on technical solutions to this as well, and AdMeld is part of that.

Lastly, publishers should also consider that just as their users can be retargeted elsewhere, other users can be retargeted on their site, so to some extent they stand to gain from it as well.

If there’s one piece of advice you’d give publishers around protecting and making best use of data, what would it be?

Get involved. Find a partner like AdMeld with a track record of technical innovation and expertise, strong relationships on the buy side so they can enforce your business rules, and work with them to find a solution that enables you to capture these spends without compromising your brand.

AdMeld is an Associate Member of AOP.

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