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Volume before value – do publishers need to refocus on what really matters?

Jonathan ShaevitzBy Maxifier CEO Jonathon Shaevitz
Ever since the media fragmentation in online that heralded an explosion in advertising inventory, publishers have sought solutions to tackle the question of how to manage and monetise huge volumes of impressions. At first it was the emergence of the networks. The rise of the advertising exchanges then began to introduce automation and the auction-based model. This was followed by the emergence of other technology-based businesses including SSPs on the sell side and the DSPs and, most recently, agency trading desks on the buy side. The one thing these technologies have in common is, by and large, they focus on helping monetise the lower value remnant inventory. While employing such solutions to quickly and easily sell such inventory helps a publisher improve its site yield and adds incremental revenue, what seems strange is that all this investment and effort seems to have over-shadowed the focus on where real value lies – in premium inventory. Total Inventory
To me, this seems a classic case of 'not seeing the wood for the trees'. All the effort seems to have been around trying to solve what to do with non-premium inventory rather than looking at premium or, perhaps more importantly, the whole question of total inventory. When it comes to premium inventory, Pareto’s law stands true. Although it is much smaller in terms of overall impression volumes, it’s where high CPMs are commanded and where the much greater proportion of revenue is earned. Today publishers need to be looking much more holistically at the total impressions they have available and taking greater control to ensure they can get optimum value for every one. They need to realise that every campaign they carry must be seen in the context of their total inventory. By doing this they will begin to appreciate that changes made to any campaign they have live will have a subsequent impact on other campaigns running – sometimes positively and sometimes negatively. This very fact requires a total inventory insight to allow the right decisions to be made around campaign optimisation to ensure they achieve the client’s objectives while at the same time supporting the goals of their business. There are three key things I think publishers need to remember:
  • First, for the growing number of brands seeking to reach their audience online, context is critical to ensure their ads only appear in the right environment. What many publishers can offer these brands is peace of mind: that by advertising with them they will not be compromising their brand integrity.
  • Second, brand marketers want to achieve positive associations for their business by being linked with other respected brands. Again, this is exactly what many publishers offer. What brand advertisers want to buy is not simply an ad space or an audience but, very importantly, the value attached to the publisher’s content and brand. Both these areas highlight the importance of focussing on premium inventory.
  • Finally, It will often be more profitable to focus less on low-value inventory - and even limit its availability – while instead packaging up, selling and optimising premium inventory better to begin to offer a real value differentiator. This is indeed what agencies are now asking for.
Yes, monetising non-premium is important, but publishers shouldn’t lose sight of the value of premium. The real solution for driving yield, however, is to start taking a total inventory approach and unlocking the overall value of it to deliver to the goals of your business.   Maxifier is an Associate Member of AOP.

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