Founded in 2003, National Rail Enquiries (NRE) is the U.K.’s premier source for train times and tickets and one of the most popular travel sites in the country.
In recent months, publisher consortiums have gained significant traction as publishers seek to offer brand advertisers premium content and audiences at scale. Publishers have been forced to compete with digital giants that are eating up more and more ad spend because of their ability to scale audience based buying. According to eMarketer, 54% of total digital ad spend is projected to go to Facebook and Google by 2018.
The shift toward header bidding technologies for premium publishers has dominated programmatic discussions for obvious reasons – increases in revenue and yield, optimized impressions and more control over inventory. The overwhelmingly positive impact of header bidding can be seen not only overall on PubMatic’s platform, where premium publishers see 53% higher CPMs, on average, but also across major content verticals, including news, retail / e-commerce, financial information and entertainment & lifestyle.
Earlier this month, PubMatic launched the industry’s first enterprise-grade wrapper solution for publishers, which solves for the inefficiencies in header tag management and measurement in header bidding strategies. As premium publishers continue to rapidly adopt header bidding, they need a complete wrapper solution that enables the holistic management of all header bidding partners and provides a transparent, real-time view into bid activity and volume, monetization and latency metrics.
The Story Behind the Success
A leading entertainment and news web property was in search of a reliable programmatic partner that could increase its fill rates and CPMs to maximize yield. At the time, header bidding was still a new technology that had not yet gained mainstream traction. The publisher partnered with PubMatic to leverage its Decision Manager header bidding product to gain an edge on the publisher’s competitors, in its ad sales efforts.
You might not know it, but every time you pick up your smartphone to view content, you’re creating what’s called a “mobile moment.” These moments have piqued brand advertisers’ interests as opportunities to share relevant marketing messages on our tiny screens; but from publishers’ perspective, there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to achieve these precarious, highly personal interactions.
Programmatic Trading is the buzz word for 2013. Many publishers are showing interest in adopting this more efficient way of trading but often lack the support to do so. Concerns in the market are rife, and it can often seem discouraging when the knowledge behind the technology isn’t there. And to confuse matters, Private Marketplaces (PMPs) have entered the programmatic scene, leading to even more mystification and fears on the publisher side.
However with their granular transparency PMPs give the reins back to publishers, allowing greater control over pricing and powering direct sellers with information on the practices and preferences of their best clients.
A recent PMP success story for PubMatic started when it partnered with IDG UK (International Data Group UK) towards the end of last year to help drive IDG UK’s offering into the programmatic spectrum.
IDG UK is a global technology network bringing together over 280 million technology buyers in 97 countries. IDG UK chose PubMatic as their Strategic Selling Partner to enable its programmatic offering to market for their B2B and B2C properties, such as ComputerworldUK, Macworld, PCAdvisor and DigitalArtsOnline.
Like many of our other clients, IDG UK needed to partner with a trusted technology platform to lead their programmatic trading adoption and help them drive their direct sales into the opportunities around Private Marketplaces.
Key factors for any client, when moving into the PMP environment, are to gain deep control over their digital assets with heightened transparency and the ability to adjust floor prices when needed. The feeling of having the chance to be ‘hands on’ within the programmatic landscape is often needed by the publisher to allow them control and transparency when dealing with their inventory.
IDG UK was quick to realise the benefit of embracing programmatic trading and taking ownership over how and to whom its impressions were traded programmatically. As part of its overall digital strategy, IDG UK’s media services director Dan Shaw quickly identified the need for a specialist to lead their programmatic trading and adoption within their direct sales teams.
“Everywhere you look there are very bullish forecasts about how much the programmatic space will grow. We wanted to make sure we were as close to the market as we could be. And we also wanted to be one of the first Publishers having the conversations agencies wanted to have. A dedicated sales resource has given us the opportunity to do both of these things; we recognised the need to have someone actively talking with all demand partners (and someone who could spend time with Pubmatic) so they really understood the opportunities and could feedback to the overall business,” said Shaw.
By appointing Rob Bradley to work with PubMatic’s EMEA Director of Advertiser Solutions, Duncan Chamberlain, Dan Shaw ensured IDG had a dedicated sales lead to partner with PubMatic.
This enabled the direct sales business to work alongside the Agency Trading Desks whilst complimenting each other rather than cannibalising the sales efforts which led to increased revenues.
Programmatic buying and PMPs equip IDG UK with the capability to control the pricing of inventory by advertiser or segment whilst maintaining direct relationships with buyers and controlling ad quality. This was previously not possible with network relationships.
Throughout 2013, IDG UK will continue to focus on PMPs, extracting higher CPMs and approaching more trading desks, segmenting audiences further with the addition of 1st and 3rd party data.
By funnelling more agency spend into programmatic, IDG UK will gain greater control on pricing via guaranteed spends across its premium/audience rich inventory.
“As a premium publisher it is imperative we have control over the CPMs and spend we receive from our core clients via Programmatic Trading. An initial block list led a sales strategy to approach agency teams and trading desks to set up PMPs, with clients we gain direct bookings from and use trading desks. Although the overall PMP market is not as advanced as we would like we have seen great success with some of those implemented. Our SSP PubMatic has been a very valuable asset in setting up this new revenue stream.
“The next few months will see us arranging more PMPs with various demand partners and keep a close eye on their success and impact against direct sales. We see them as a core progression towards Premium RTB. In fact I am already experiencing conversations regarding branding campaigns with higher CPMs than the usual direct response we are used to via RTB,” Bradley said.
I sat down today with Lotame’s Founder and CEO Andy Monfried to discuss the recent integration between the partners and how they are uncovering audience data to make publishers’ business much more transparent.
Rich Sobel (RS): We’re really excited about this partnership, and what it means to put two premium businesses together. When we first started conversations about this, some time ago, what clicked for you?
Andy Monfried (AM): The tremendous footprint that PubMatic has, and the unbelievable supply opportunity that you guys are tasked with and responsible for. I saw it not only as an asset but also as a unique challenge.
RS: You have been very publisher-focused since the beginning, in terms of helping them manage their data. In our world, we have a number of clients who could be considered marketers as well, who require the same support for their data management.
AM: Our visions are aligned in that respect. Many of our products allow the sharing of data from a publisher point-of-view to a marketer point-of-view, all from the click of a mouse. So if you choose to share your first party data on a permission basis with a marketer, we enable that function. The movement of data, quickly, easily and seamlessly is what I believe makes the plumbing of our DMP a key differentiator.
As far as what’s trending, whether its mobile, CRM, RTB, or transactions, we’re seeing an explosion of data sharing across our ecosystem.
RS: The programmatic experience is about finding the user you’re looking for.
AM: I totally agree—I think that marketers will learn to bring a small portion of their CRM data to large publishers who can then model it out across their first party inventory. And that’s a benefit for everyone. PubMatic sits at the center of a lot of those transactions, and can enable that type of transaction.
RS: When you think about all the things that are necessary to make it all work, there’s the user component of it, and then the transaction part. So, there are a lot of complements across our platforms.
AM: Yes, there’s a natural symbiotic connection between what PubMatic excels at and what Lotame focuses on. We collect first party data in a unique way—Lotame allows you to write rules and capture events behind the scenes so the publisher doesn’t do any heavy lifting. A-synchronous data collection across user experiences is huge.
RS: The combination of multiple components in a single stream.
AM: Exactly. And that’s a key differentiator for us, how we do first party data collection. First party data is one of a publisher’s greatest assets—that’s why we put such an emphasis on getting the most from it. It’s not all equal.
RS: And you’re getting the smarter publishers. Not all SSPs are the same; different elements need to be taken into consideration. Both PubMatic and Lotame go the extra mile in terms of how we create unique technical solutions for our customers. PubMatic runs a truly unified auction across all buying methods – including guaranteed, direct sold campaigns – and the most advanced Private Marketplace solution, while Lotame has the most advanced and granular ways to collect and manage audience data. This brings us back to this partnership, which will impact the ecosystem in a major way. There’s so much competition out there, but there hasn’t been much collaboration.
AM: The ease of integration mitigates the amount of work and increases the results. The hard work comes from PubMatic and Lotame, rather than the publishers. Whether it’s data collection, categorization, targeting, optimization, and construction, these are all executed by Lotame and PubMatic service and support teams. One of the key goals of this partnership for me was to reduce the workload on publishers, and I believe our mutual clients already see the opportunity and value we bring together to them.
RS: We take a consultative approach to how we serve our clients, and you guys do something similar. There’s a lot of data crunching required — we act as a guide to help publishers by taking the work off their plate. For publishers who want to take the next step, and have seen the shifting sands to manage their share of wallet, there’s no other option than to engage in the programmatic, RTB-enabled world of media buying.
AM: It’s true. Publishers don’t have the extended resources to sit around and wait for the tasks they have to perform. So this partnership is the next step in making a publisher’s life easier and making assets more valued.
RS: As advertisers start to dictate terms more formally, using programmatic tools, publishers can face these changes by defining and leading a consortium. Scale matters, and publishers who are looking to compete for larger share of wallet have to find ways to expand their footprint. Data is one way to find more audience, and creating partnerships establishes premium pools of inventory to activate that data.
AM: Absolutely. We allow publishers to share data on a permission basis with each other to find their users across their partners. Data must be extensible, but publishers need the controls that we (Lotame and PubMatic) provide to make it brand safe.
RS: Integrity is important to us, and it’s important for us to work with premium businesses that feel the same way. Our customer relationships are more important than anything else. And we value this partnership, because we know that Lotame shares these values. On that note—what was the initial idea behind the partnership?
AM: We wanted to focus on ways we can increase value for publishers, by leveraging data, knowing that most major marketers and publishers are in the hunt for the right DMP for business. People work with DMPs and SSPs out of necessity—Lotame and PubMatic together come to the table with a more cohesive offering: this partnership.
We have similar visions for our companies, and at the end of the day, we both always hold the client at the highest regard for whatever their goals are.
In addition, PubMatic has a global footprint from which Lotame is very excited to benefit from. Data is important everywhere, and PubMatic’s experience and expertise in key local markets make this partnership very exciting.