A Successful Programmatic Workshop

Blog   |   Operative Team   |   September 28, 2015

Operative hosted a “Programmatic Best Practices” workshop on September 22nd, attended by over 50 publishers including Conde Nast, Hearst, Shazam, VICE Media, Gannett, Complex Media and Scripps Networks Interactive. The packed house attendance shows just how important programmatic has become for publishers, and that increasing programmatic performance is a top priority.

As part of our continued focus on the #profitablepublisher, the event focused on how publishers can better implement programmatic practices to make more money. The morning started off with our CRO, Jason Witt, speaking about the ‘sales dilemma’ – fragmented yield. Publishers have their direct sales business and their programmatic business but they are not well connected. Jason summed up the publisher’s state of affairs perfectly, “Publishers today are facing the perfect storm—more channels to monetize, more complexity within each channel and fewer resources with which to do it.  We’re trying to help.”


Next, Operative’s General Manager, Don Amboyer, provided an overview of the current programmatic landscape. Interesting discovery – RTB is still the most popular for marketers, followed by private marketplace and programmatic guaranteed. Many publishers are experimenting with new and better ways to increase RTB revenue.

The conversation then turned to the maturity of automated guaranteed, unreserved programmatic, and real-time bidding:

Automated Guaranteed: To streamline the direct sales process through a marketplace.
The Reality: It’s a minor revenue stream for publishers since they are sharing pricing and some inventory information though partners like AdSlot. Data, viewability and other necessary add-ons are not integrated.

Unreserved Programmatic: Works like a private auction that allows a variety of select advertisers to bid against each other raising CPMs.
The Reality: Inventory is floated case by case across several auction systems at the advertiser’s request. There’s not a big lift in CPM and also a minor revenue stream.

Real-Time Bidding: The most mature of the three, in which publishers have 3-6 integrated partners who actively bid against each other with common floors.
The Reality: With header bidding activated, many partners are left stagnant in what we call a ‘frozen waterfall.’

We then welcomed our expert panelists, Jana Meron, VP of Programmatic & Data Strategy at Business Insider and Bruce Hashim, Vice President of NASDAQ.com. Both Jana and Bruce run small programmatic ad sales teams at their respective companies. We got into lively discussions around header bidding, seller incentives, viewability and PMPs.


Private marketplace brought dissention among the panel. Jana found success with programmatic guaranteed. Bruce, on the other hand, doesn’t see the benefits of programmatic direct. He actually blocks advertisers from the open exchange if they won’t buy from the private marketplace. He calls it a political struggle, saying sellers can’t sell if they don’t do private marketplace. But both agreed it is an incredibly manual process to integrate SSP, marketplace and ad server.

The workshop ended with Operative Solutions Architect, Kiernan Collins and Director of Business Development, Adam Hecht presenting best practices for optimizing programmatic. Adam lightened the room by commiserating with the audience, stating, “Ad ops is already burdened 90% of the time.” Much laughter ensued.

There was a lot of back and forth, with great interaction from the audience. 3 takeaways that publishers can take action on right now, including:

  • Take a look at your current taxonomy and see if there are untapped opportunities to segment for programmatic. Mirror direct sales and do A/B testing.
  • Evaluate your current partnerships and determine if all of your vendors are performing to their highest ability.
  • Analyze your ability to fulfill PMP deals. Are you creating the most effective packages possible? Or have you created the necessary infrastructure to fulfill them at all?

We also recommend watching the webinar we did with Bauer Xcel Media, explaining how we increased their revenue by 89% in Q1 2015 versus Q1 2014.

Operative can help marketers maximize profitability on programmatic no matter what level of maturity they are in across RTB, automated guaranteed or PMP. Check out Operative Compete today to increase your programmatic revenue by at least 30%.