Flashback to Ad Week 2015, it was my second week at Virool as an SDR. My only goals were to figure out how to use a Mac without anyone noticing I was a PC person, and to set as many meetings as possible for my bossâ€™s trip to Ad Week. As an industry newbie, I was consuming everything I could about the world of ad tech, agencies, and brands.
One year later at Ad Week 2016, I was setting my own meetings (and a master at using Mac might I add), and had broadened my perspective beyond the demand side. Having done my due diligence over the last year to understand the programmatic landscape and all of its moving parts, I found myself most attracted to the publisher side and helping solve a whole new set of problems. Although Ad Week focused heavily on agencies, brands, and marketing; there was much to learn from chatting with publishers and other vendors.
So what was discussed in the world of publishers and SSP vendors? Glad you asked!
#1 Mobile. Monetization of mobile web inventory is a top priority. Although some folks might be a little late to the party with vertical video, most publishers can at least agree that the vast majority of their visitors are no longer desktop. With both in-app and mobile web inventory, publishers are actively searching for ways to increase mobile fill rate with quality demand that wonâ€™t taint the user experience (ahem, ad blockers).
#2 User Experience. Publishers must strike a balance between maxing out ad revenue potential and not spamming their visitors with annoying or irrelevant ads. Nonintrusive top quality ad campaigns that are relevant to visitors, and at times the specific content on page, are key. Itâ€™s a delicate line to dance on, and truly separates the top tier publishers from the rest.
#3 Social Media Superpowers. The perpetual fear of an industry shift to totalitarianism under a Facebook and/or Google regime is very real for publishers. A large bulk of publisher content is consumed via social platforms. While these super social networks (who are actively trying to deviate from this categorization – more on that here) make some publishers nervous, others have embraced the change and created their own Snapchat channels, and are actively finding ways to monetize via the traffic that comes through these social platforms. Meanwhile, on the demand side, agencies and brands are pouring ad dollars into creating vertical content (we at Virool love this).
#4 Playing Nice in the Sandbox. Itâ€™s no secret that there are way too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to vendors. Native video is no longer a novelty or differentiator and for the most part, far gone are the days of exclusivity. Exclusivity is inefficient and will not consistently give publishers the fill rate or revenue they wish to see – especially on mobile. This is why header bidding is so darn sexy. Publishers see the value in working with multiple vendors and exchanges, and are interested in mutually beneficial solutions. The fun part is figuring out how to make the puzzle pieces fit!
#5 Monetization. At the end of the day publishers and Miss Rihanna have a lot in common; albeit a vastly different context, they expect to have their money. You can have all the bells and whistles and compelling differentiators, but R.I.P. to any vendor without competitive CPMs and decent fill rate.
After a week of countless panels, meetings, taxis, coffees, business cards, and happy hours I am happy to be back in beautiful San Francisco, with a much stronger understanding of supply side pain points – and am excited to collaborate in finding solutions within our ever-evolving industry.