The Elements of the New Sales Organization for Publishers

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By Evan Adlman, VP Publisher Development, Americas

For most publishers, the last decade has been one of unprecedented change and upheaval. The rapid proliferation of ad formats, ad channels and the evolution to a real-time ad sales market has changed publishing in ways that even the industry’s smartest minds could never have predicted. While the core fundamentals of creating content and then monetizing the audience drawn to that content by making it available to advertisers remains the same, the way all of this is done has quickly changed.

That significant change would seem to beg an obvious question: if the business environment that publishers are operating in has changed so dramatically what is changing inside the publishing companies themselves? It should come as no surprise that the skillset of the folks driving sales and revenue inside publishers has changed. Here’s a quick overview of what has happened.

The Sales Team

First things first, sales organizations are still all about sales and relationships. The cliché has always been that the proverbial three-martini lunch or steak dinner with agency clients will seal the deal. While the new tech-focused environment has made many think that paradigm is over, there will likely always be a place for building and maintaining relationships with larger advertisers.

That said, technology will continue to play a bigger and bigger role in the ad sales process. By 2018, $53 billion of all global ad spend will be spent programmatically, according to Magna Global. Still traditional direct buying will continue to be a significant part of the market as well. So publishers need a sales force that is comfortable having a holistic discussion (direct and programmatic) with clients. Many publishers have initiated trainings to ensure that their sales force has a mindset that allows them to be comfortable in those discussions.

Yield Management

Beyond the sales force, publishers need to make sure they have the right mix of folks that understand the ins-and-outs of the data and technology involved in running a publishing business in real-time.

One of the key needs are people that at a micro level can optimize how a publisher’s inventory is packaged and sold. These folks are often math and data focused professionals or the so-called “quants” that are able to get into the details of the data and find ways to increase yield and revenue.

Technology Management

The final piece is a team that understands how all of the technology pieces fit together and how to manage them as a functioning tech stack. This team should be able to determine the type of solutions a publisher needs to be effective including essentials like their SSP and DMP and the other necessary pieces to build out a full programmatic stack. This team should be able to evaluate platforms and solutions from a technological perspective and determine the best current mix and also anticipate how the technology may change in near term.

As publishers adapt to a world that is moving at the speed of real-time, succeeding in this dynamic market will often mean getting it right internally. While not all publishers will be able to execute this change management exercise at the same rate, the market is making it imperative that publishers evaluate the skill mix of their staff on an a consistent basis.

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