Programmatic advertising is never as straightforward as “automated” ad selling sounds like it should be. During closed-door sessions this week at Digiday’s Programmatic Media Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona, publishers vented on some of the biggest frustrations they face, ranging from how advertisers’ brand safety concerns are hurting news publishers, to why GDPR compliance remains an unknown target. Here’s a sample of what was said:

Bad news for news publishers
“We’ve had clients saying they were pulling away entirely from news categories.”

“Sales opportunities are much more limited if you’re a serious news brand.”

“There’s a huge difference between brand safety and news sensitivity.”

“A lot of brand-safety companies are not individualizing publishers.”

“We have pharmaceutical organizations who block ‘cancer’ because it’s on their standard block list. It’s the most ridiculous thing.”

“There’s a clear distinction between what we view as a brand safe environment and what advertisers view as a brand safe environment. They don’t view fake news as a problem, but if it’s a contentious headline, it’s a problem.”

 

GDPR concerns haven’t gone away
“We almost need someone to get in trouble to set an example for the rest of us to know what not to do.”

“The facade of [GDPR] is everyone is complying or turned off [European] traffic.”

“It feels to me today that 99 percent of the [consent management platforms] and setups out there are not fully compliant and are fake opt-ins.”

“I didn’t see any impact with CPMs, but that’s because 99.9 percent of people say to yes to an opt-in that is kind of an opt-out.”

“Yes, it’s annoying, but it’s getting conversations going internally and showing how important our programmatic business is internally.”

“What concerns me is we did race in the last month [before GDPR took effect] to put our product together to present to customers, but California [which passed a consumer privacy law in 2018] is coming not too far from now and is a big market for a lot of the publishers in the room. Do we want that to happen again, and is GDPR [compliance] good enough to comply with that as well? That’s the next question.”

Ad tech annoyances
“40 percent of programmatic spending actually reaches publishers and that really pisses me off.”

“Programmatic guaranteed is just postponing direct sales a little longer. The reality is what buyers really want is something biddable.”

“In the world of header-bidding, SSPs really need to fight and prove what they stand for. DSPs can work directly with publishers now.”

“From our experience, moving ad servers is like a 6-month to 9-month nightmare.”

“One of the drawbacks to moving off [Google’s ad server] DFP is you don’t have [access to demand from Google’s ad exchange] AdX.”

Content widgets for the win?
“I would have guessed Outbrain and Taboola widgets would have come off pages [as brand safety became a bigger concern among advertisers]. But based on what I’ve seen, if anything they’ve expanded.”

“A big piece now is recirculation. They’re offering us to be able to recirculate [traffic] on our site as well, so we’ve found value in increasing pageviews per visit.”

“We see it as real estate, whatever is going to yield the most revenue.”

“A lot of times Outbrain doesn’t get blocked by ad blockers. So we can get the revenue from people who have ad blockers turned on.”

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