Integrating Direct and Programmatic Sales: Our Breakfast Workshop Recap

Blog   |   Fatou Bah   |   September 20, 2016

We held our fourth programmatic briefing at the beautiful Dream Downtown on September 15th. The session was dedicated to giving publishers actionable ideas that they could use immediately to increase programmatic revenue. Industry experts from top publishers including Frankly Media, Comcast, CBS Local, New York Post, Rodale and VICE Media gathered to learn the best tips of the trade.

Our panelists included Michael McFadden, SheKnows Media Programmatic Sales and Jared Maynard, Render Media Programmatic Account Director. They shared their thoughts on how to better integrate programmatic and direct sales. Jared saw programmatic as a hunter’s role, a business development role, while Michael wanted to make sure the direct seller is incentivized when it comes to programmatic and believes in keeping the direct seller very involved in the programmatic conversation. On that note, Render Media is exploring the idea of carving out a percentage for direct sellers for programmatic.

It was also clear that education is still needed across many parts of the publisher organization. Jared felt that a huge problem with grasping programmatic is that teams do not communicate properly with each other. He isn’t a fan of silos, and his advice for sellers is to differentiate what everything is, why it makes sense and if there are efficiencies to gain with programmatic.

Some good advice that came out of the discussion:

  • Think of programmatic as a different way to sell.
  • Don’t be afraid to define programmatic to your buyers.
  • The operations team is your friend.
  • The most effective sellers will be the ones who can forecast their own revenue and work hand in hand with operations to ensure delivery.
  • Successful sellers will be the ones who can generate interest from their unique audience and who will ‘always be closing.’

The conversation then broke out into three breakout sessions: “Can Header Bidding Help or Hurt Direct?,” “Publisher Data and Programmatic” and “Merging Sales Teams: Best Practices.” Some nuggets that came from the breakout sessions included the following:

  • Publisher data in programmatic is a major pain point for many publishers.
    • Building segments that buyers want is a shot in the dark, because there are too many variables.
    • Even if publishers build the right segments, scale becomes an issue, and often buyers see better results targeting those segments ROS rather than individual categories.
    • DMPs are costly, and there is no guarantee that a buyer using a different DMP will accept the segments created by the publisher’s DMP as accurate (i.e., “left-handed golfer” can mean something totally different depending on the DMP).
  • The buy side needs to be more transparent about what KPIs their individual campaigns are being measured against. This will allow publishers to optimize their PMP deals towards those KPIs, i.e. viewability, CTR, etc.
    • Most buyers won’t even disclose their pricing requirements. Publishers strongly believe this is due to the buy side not completely understanding their own technology.
  • Programmatic is not automatic, and many complexities and manual processes make it difficult to advance.
    • The challenges of merging sales and programmatic teams are similar across the board but vary in importance according to revenue.
    • A/B testing is often a requirement for campaign performance. Unfortunately, many publishers lack the manpower and scale to successfully A/B test multiple campaigns targeted across multiple segments.

Whether local or national sales, complicated or simple, success comes down to the impact on revenue to the publisher or network, the impact on efficiently buying audience and contextual inventory for the agency and/or trading desk and assessing the operational efficiencies gained through automation.

Though there’s a lot of room for education ahead, the industry no longer believes programmatic is just remnant inventory and that it’s here for the long haul. Those direct sellers who embrace education and actually learn programmatic terms will be the sellers of the future.

Hope you enjoyed hearing these insights from our informative breakfast. Check out more photos from our workshop.

If you are interested in attending any of our future programmatic events, click here to request an invite. And if you are interested in speaking at our programmatic breakfast, or any other ad ops events we host in the future, please let us know.