The new programmatic arsenal: How Turner, The Economist are beefing up their approach

Premium publishers and broadcasters have been long aware that programmatic sales is an integral part of their ad strategy. Turner, for instance, has been more heavily focused on aligning its direct and programmatic sales teams “over the last eight or nine months,” said Nick Johnson, senior vice president of digital ad sales strategy for Turner Ad Sales. The programmatic momentum has been steady, and it isn’t about to let up.

Having moved far beyond the basics of exchanges, publishers are now concentrating on how to take advantage of the methods that have come to the fore this year: automated guaranteed and ad reinsertion.

Automated guaranteed: How publishers can make intimacy efficient

“As clients get ready to adopt programmatic technology, we are a huge proponent of the automated guaranteed marketplace,” said Michelle Zitz, director of global data solutions at The Economist Group. It makes sense when you listen to her explain the tedium of a manual direct sales workflow.

“Think about the amount of time that gets spent responding to an RFP and going through different versions of Excel spreadsheets and sending things back and getting approvals and making tweaks and getting things booked directly and getting tagged…etc.,” she said of the painstaking journey.

Automated guaranteed, a type of programmatic advertising that mimics a direct sale to a client but automates the process, has helped make this journey more efficient for The Economist Group while allowing the publisher to maintain intimate relationships with clients. The sales team still gets to work one-on-one with each buyer—they just get to do it faster. “Being able to use a platform that can really simplify [this process] is a huge benefit,” said Zitz. “Simply from a logistics perspective, that is a fantastic way to improve day-to-day operations and workflow directly with the client.”

Looking to the future, Zitz wants to see automated guaranteed bring even more ease to the ad sales process. This would “promote buying on clients’ first party audiences” and sharing that premium inventory in a more efficient way, saving time for both the buy and the sell side of the equation.

Ad reinsertion: How publishers can overcome the block

It’s an uncomfortable subject for publishers, but ad reinsertion—which lets publishers put advertisements back on their platforms where they were removed via ad blockers—is a legitimate tool in the monetization arsenal. In order to reinsert ads without compromising audiences, however, publishers have the responsibility of getting to know their audiences to the point where the ads they reinsert are relevant enough not to feel intrusive and, when it comes to video, the number of ads doesn’t become too overwhelming for the viewer and the content.

Johnson from Turner understands why publishers and broadcasters need to be so careful. “We know that younger audiences are not necessarily fans of conventional advertising, at least as it relates to the display, and that ad blocking and human traffic and fraud are all very real things that we need to contend with,” he said.

While publishers contemplate contending, they must face up to the revenue they’re missing out on thanks to ad blocking. “Whether it’s five or 30 percent,” said CBS Interactive’s chief revenue officer, David Morris, “we’re still losing those impressions. Even the small losses ad up.”

Taking advantage of the arsenal

Publishers can—and are successfully—wrangling programmatic with tools that make it increasingly profitable to sit on the sell-side of the advertising equation. One of the keys to realizing the potential of these tools is simply being open to them. After all, why dismiss any opportunities for potential increases in sales revenue?

“There’s a lot of innovation happening,” said Johnson, “so it’s our intent to really make sure that we’re taking a good look at what’s available out there and making sure that we are working with technology partners that help us with our objective…which is maximizing revenue yields and growth.” When all is said and done, taking advantage of programmatic comes down to publishers looking out for the bottom line.

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