PubAcademy UK: Publishers’ Choice

Our penultimate PubAcademy of the year took place on November 9th in London, bringing publishers and buyers together to discuss the choices publishers are forced to make in order to successfully navigate the sometimes choppy waters of programmatic. We also took this opportunity to discuss how sellers and buyers can work better together to ensure all parties involved realise the value on offer.

Through the discussions that took place, we were able to identify the four key themes that seemed to resonate well with attendees:

Publishers Want to Take Back Control of Ad Decisioning

It would seem that the majority of our industry is familiar with the concept that today’s legacy ad serving infrastructure is ill equipped to help publishers manage and capture holistic yield. It is clear that many publishers are still trying to figure out how they can explore and implement alternative, open ad serving set-ups whilst minimizing the disruption to their businesses.

Working with a holistic monetization platform such as PubMatic SEVEN, with its modular approach, allows publishers to choose which products or solution sets they want to integrate and when. Only by having this choice will publishers truly be able to realise the full potential of their digital assets.

Publishers Want Partners, Not Tech Vendors

While the continued evolution of the market, its increasing complexity, and the plethora of tech vendor choices available all play a role in driving programmatic spend, they have just as much potential to inhibit growth as well.

In that light, our key panelists highlighted the importance of establishing two-way partnerships between publishers and their tech vendors. When publishers are evaluating technology partners, the primary concern is finding ones that are open, transparent and willing to integrate with each other for the good of the publisher and the overall digital media market.

Header Bidding is Still a Hot Topic, But The Conversation is Evolving

During our discussion we challenged the hypothesis that header bidding is little more than “waterfall” 2.0. Many publishers are still allocating priorities as they continue to build out strategies around their direct sold books of business and where the sweet spot can exist between the IO and programmatic direct. Regardless, all of our publisher panelists were in agreement that header bidding has had a positive effect on yield and that it’s here to stay. The conversation is evolving, as is the need. Having to manage multiple header tags and the impact they have on page performance and user experience remains a concern.

Hence the exploration of the pros and cons of solutions that address these potential issues, such as wrapper tags and server side integrations, are going to be vital over the coming months. Looking forward, there remains a lot of uncertainty around whether open source or proprietary is the route to take. The jury’s still out, but expect a verdict soon.

Publishers and Buyers Still Have Work to Do to Make the Marriage A Happy One

Our panel of publishers and buyers shared some of their key asks of each other to help everyone realise the potential that programmatic offers. In no particular order:

  • Make PMP deals more discoverable and design them to meet buyers’ needs. Building PMP deals around curated audiences, for example, or being sure to support the buying models of agencies;
  • Design PMPs to be ‘always on’ and proactively troubleshoot when they are underperforming;
  • Design offers that support the buying models that agencies will be adopting in 2017—the combination of programmatic AND automated guaranteed, for example;
  • Provide access to more targetable and segmented second-party data to drive increased bid density;
  • Finally, communicate more frequently and be more transparent.

pa_logofinaluk112216About PubAcademy

PubAcademy is a global industry education initiative PubMatic launched to help ensure our customers and partners are in the best position to achieve their individual business goals and address the unique set of challenges that they face in this ever changing world of programmatic.

For more information about our platform, SEVEN, visit PubMatic’s website here or email info@pubmatic.com. To find out more about PubMatic’s PubAcademy events, including when the next one will be held in your region, or to suggest a topic or speaker for a PubAcademy session, email PubAcademy@PubMatic.com.

Why You Hate Ad Tech

This piece authored by Evan Simeone, Vice President of Product Management at PubMatic.

This piece authored by Evan Simeone, Vice President of Product Management at PubMatic.

As a longtime software developer and product manager, I value innovation. Unfortunately, innovation and easy, seamless operation aren’t related. Or if they are, it’s often an inverse relationship. After all, what distinguishes an early adopter is a willingness to put up with an incomplete, unevenly polished product simply because it’s new. Ad tech provides unsettlingly consistent examples. The whole industry didn’t exist two decades ago, but in that short time it has evolved and innovated constantly – criticism of ad technology never faults it for its slow pace. So in effect, whether we like it or not, in this industry we are all early adopters at all times; by the time one piece of tech stabilizes and is adopted widely, it’s no longer sufficient and the next new thing comes along. But these are integrated business applications we’re talking about, not the latest consumer gadget. Adopting new solutions is not so simple when you need everything to be connected and interoperable, when you’re trying to run a business at scale, for example. So for all its innovation and rapid change, ad tech quality and effectiveness often seems to be going backwards, at least from the perspective of actual users trying to run actual digital media businesses. That’s why so many people hate ad tech.

To say this poses a challenge for ad tech product developers is an understatement, which is why many in the ecosystem simply choose to ignore it completely. But this is exactly the problem we decided to solve at PubMatic. How can we deliver ad tech solutions to publishers that are at once innovative, high quality, flexible and adaptable to inevitable change? How can we provide a consistent, reliable, easy-to-operate platform that is also radically innovative and flexible?

Two years ago we set about answering these questions. In order to get a better handle on the problem and understand it clearly from users’ point of view, we talked to hundreds of people in the industry—day-to-day users and business stakeholders of all types. We investigated across all regions globally, both on the publisher and the demand side. While we saw a lot of variation in the feedback we received, there was a consistent pattern of frustration with ad technology that is either considered legacy and generic, or niche and difficult to integrate.

Frequently, “legacy” and “generic” were defined in terms of the traditional ad servers that were designed primarily for desktop display inventory, making them poorly suited to today’s multi-channel, multi-format, multi-device businesses. In the category of newer, niche solutions, they cited those that focus only on mobile or native, which may do one specific thing well but are difficult to integrate into a scalable enterprise solution and workflow.

We also took a hard look at our own technology and reassessed every piece of it, both individually and in the wider context of a full, integrated solution, and asked ourselves a few important questions. How completely does our tech address the full spectrum of modern demand channels, screens, and formats? How easy is it to use all together, to operate at scale and to integrate with other solutions? How adaptable is the foundation, and is it flexible enough to deal with whatever tomorrow will bring?

While we were proud of the products we’d built, we quickly realized that in order to solve the bigger problem we needed to rethink how our products work together and how other technologies can plug in. We needed to think of everything we built within the context of a complete, interoperable full-stack solution—one that was at the same time entirely modular, extensible and customizable. Pieces that weren’t compatible with this objective needed to be redesigned and rewritten, while others could be adapted and better integrated.

The main challenge was that everything needed to fit together seamlessly and yet also be decoupled and pluggable. Internally, we used the metaphor of a Lego kit. You can use all the pieces that come in the box and have a complete end-to-end publisher ad tech stack, including direct ad serving, indirect monetization, cross-channel optimization, mobile, native, video, and comprehensive advanced analytics for all of it… or you can rearrange and swap out pieces from other kits to develop endlessly varied, customized and differentiated solutions to meet your needs and easily integrate new innovation.

Developing a seamless full-stack solution that’s also completely modular is, of course, easier said than done, and it did not happen overnight. And I’m happy to say that with the recent announcement of our new unified, modular platform, PubMatic SEVEN, we released exactly that. It was worth the time it took because the investments we made in providing not just point solutions or “pipes” that work, but in refining the workflow and interoperability, the integration points and APIs, made a real difference in the experience publishers have running their businesses. And because the platform is entirely modular and extensible, we have a great foundation to innovate further and to make it easy for our publishers to integrate the innovations of others in the ecosystem.

The exciting part is that although the recent release of SEVEN is the culmination of a couple of years of work, this is really just the beginning. We see the pace of innovation and product development only accelerating in 2017. And because we have a completely modular, well-integrated full stack platform on which to build, we’re confident that future innovation will support easy operation and overall quality, rather than get in its way.

For more information on PubMatic’s comprehensive revenue management platform, SEVEN, contact your account manager, email info@pubmatic.com or follow @PubMatic on Twitter.