Evaluating Publisher Inventory: A Buy Side Perspective


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By Emma Witschi and Colin Brown, Platform Solutions, MediaMath

As publishers increasingly migrate inventory sales to programmatic channels, technology providers have emerged to provide publishers with the tools to realize the full potential of their digital assets. One such company is our valued partner, PubMatic, which provides publishers with marketing automation software that enables them to manage their programmatic advertising sales.

As buyers are shifting marketing dollars into the programmatic space, publishers need to consider what makes their inventory desirable for their advertising counterparts on the buy side.  In the new programmatic landscape, powered by supply side platforms (SSPs), exchanges, and demand side platforms (DSPs), marketers are employing automated media buying and selling tools to ensure that every impression is aligned with their unique campaign message and goals. Every advertising dollar should be spent trying to promote the right message, to the right audience, in the right context.  As these three variables align, consumers are more likely to interact and respond to an advertiser’s message, making the impression a more “desirable” purchase for a programmatic campaign manager.

To determine if a publisher is valuable to a marketer, the first question asked is “can I access my target audience?” Increasingly in the programmatic space, marketers have the tools to answer this question. By leveraging 1st party marketer data, 2nd party publisher data, and 3rd party vendor data, marketers can filter publisher inventory, and purchase the specific impressions that make the most strategic sense with a unique desired audience.  By forecasting and proactively filtering supply, marketers can determine which publishers offer the greatest reach against their target segments.

After determining audience penetration, the next concern marketers have is whether the site is conducive to driving engagement with the advertisements. Two key questions buyers ask are “will the consumer see my ad?” and “will the consumer be in the right mindset to complete the desired action?”

This means that marketers must evaluate the contextual environment and ad placement on publisher sites.  In addition to aligning the page content with the call to action, buyers look for sites with low ad counts per page and highly-viewable placements.

Marketers who buy media programmatically have a distinct advantage over those who rely only on direct buys. Programmatic buyers can measure performance and continually optimize their investment and approach during the life of a campaign. After the message, audience, contextual environment, and viewability settings have been applied, marketers can measure the impact of these choices. Many publishers have relied on click through rate (CTR) to define digital media performance.

However, industry studies reveal that very few users (8%) actually contribute to the majority of clicks (85%), so by optimizing towards clicks, campaigns potentially ignore a brand’s core audience. As marketers learn more about consumer behavior, and programmatic reporting capabilities become increasingly advanced, it is critically important that publishers consider the performance of advertising beyond the click. Engagement metrics that are more indicative of success include: brand survey responses to measure ad engagement; time on brand site or number of pages viewed to measure site engagement; and actions like downloads, registrations, and email or newsletter signups to measure brand engagement. When measuring return on investment using these more indicative KPIs, the influence of audience, contextual, and publisher targeting becomes more apparent.

Marketers are relying on increased levels of transparency and control to drive their desired outcomes.  MediaMath, in partnership with PubMatic, works to give advertisers the tools to make smarter decisions. Marketing platforms, like TerminalOne offer robust targeting and reporting options to help marketers validate their approach and refine strategies over time. Knowledge of the variables (i.e. creative, placement, user location, day-part, etc.) driving the best performance gives campaign managers the data to choose the publishers that best achieve their goals.  Publishers that engage with advertisers to facilitate transparency and control will be the preferred media partners for communicating brand messages.

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