What Happened at the Yieldex Executive Summit

Blog   |   Lorne Brown   |   October 9, 2014

On October 1st, Yieldex held its 5th annual Executive Summit at the Harvard Club in NYC. The day consisted of discussion and debate around emerging challenges and trends in online advertising. As a co-sponsor of the event with MediaMath, Operative’s CEO Lorne Brown moderated a panel with guests Eric Franchi from Undertone, Mark Bernstein from Kelley Blue Book, and Ricardo Collison from CBSi. The theme of the summit centered around the future state of media selling, and how publishers are incorporating programmatic strategies.

To kick off the morning, keynote speaker Joanna O’Connell, Director of Research at AdExchanger, shared the results of a recent survey she conducted around the adoption of programmatic among publishers, agencies, marketers and tech providers, and how they are distributing their media sales. She demonstrated that the majority of the companies surveyed are allocating at least 20% of their marketing budgets to programmatic, and a sizable number of them are allocating over 60%.
Yieldex Executive Summit 2014

Operative’s Panel: Go-to-Market Innovation – Capturing New Revenue

Whether publishers are incorporating new programmatic strategies or new channels like video or mobile, it’s important to be able turn a top-down strategy into something that can get executed in the field.

To that end, the Operative panel was composed of 3 perspectives along the chain of a new product launch process: Eric Franchi represented Executive Strategy, Go-To-Market was covered by Mark Bernstein, and Ricardo Collison spoke to Operational Execution. Here is a roundup of some of the thoughts that came out of the discussion:


1) What is the best way to create product innovation that is in line with executive strategy and revenue growth goals?

Keeping all internal stakeholders aligned is key, but it’s also important to study the demand and understand who and where your audience is, and how they digest content.

Ricardo Collison: “First, understand the need and where it’s coming from, then go internally and define the operational framework of how you’re going to bring that product to market. If you are aligning incentives, everyone understands what the product and goal is, and you avoid product failures.”

Eric Franchi: “There should be a product innovation group that owns this. It’s one of the biggest investments we have made at Undertone. Everything from getting our hands on new devices and developing prototypes, to user group research on new ad units for real-time feedback. If you make a few basic investments like this, it can have a fantastic payoff.”


2) Where Does Innovation Come From?

The source of innovation should not be limited to external drivers. Your people know your product best, so it’s important not only to align with customer wants, but also to bet on internal knowledge and insight, as well as to take advantage of new technologies in a smart way.

Mark Bernstein: “Do what the customer needs, but help educate them for the future. You have to be willing to take some risks for innovation… Sales can’t be the only one talking to the customer, because everyone behind the walls will have no idea what’s going on. You’re missing the opportunity of real product innovation.”

Ricardo Collison: “The more touchpoints you have with the customers, the better you can actually facilitate their needs. Innovation is driven outside in and inside out. There’s a host of vendors out there, and if you don’t understand what can be done, you’ll miss the boat. Technology is driving disruption, on so many levels.”


3) What Kills Innovation?

Innovation is stifled by ignorance and fear. Countering this with knowledge and informed risk-taking has the potential to cause radical shift in the way we run individual businesses and the marketplace as a whole.

Eric Franchi: “At the end of the day, I find myself sitting back and wondering what is going to move the needle, with media companies undergoing this tremendous shift… I feel like there’s this tension between all of the ad ops stuff we love and where the transformational stuff can be.”

Mark Bernstein: “There’s fear in the market. What happens if they want to cherry pick? If you’re studying yield, you can price effectively, and you can repackage more effectively. I envision a future in which we’re selling 50% less for 5x more. Change drives fear, but you have to get away from that to innovate.”


4) What is innovation’s impact on the publisher supply chain?

Bringing new products to market and optimizing inventory means publishers need to have a good hold on inventory management — especially as demand channels continue to fragment. For most, inventory lives between siloed systems, which makes management and measurement across demand channels incredibly challenging.

Ricardo Collison: “When I was at eBay, we increased the inventory sold through exchanges, but that also meant we needed to completely change our org structure to accommodate this strategy change. For most publishers, ad ops is no longer ad ops, they are the analytical arm to our business. But it’s unfortunate when they’re swamped with trafficking, because this means you often can’t take advantage of new technology innovation.”

Lorne Brown: “Many publishers today are employing waterfall supply chain management. I wonder how many programmatic dollars come in on the last day of the quarter?”

Where will media sales go from here?

Our industry is abuzz about programmatic, but often forgets the value of automating direct sales operations. We’re concerned with how we can better equip sellers by arming them with new, innovative products, and how we can use technology to align publisher technologies, and allow the people inside the business operate more effectively. As Jeremy Hlavacek said in his recent Ad Exchanger article, “Let your robots be robots, and your people be creative.”

The first step to automating your direct sales is to aggregate all of your supply in one place. Once you start selling out of a single shop, it becomes significantly easier and more cost-effective to manage inventory and measure yield — regardless of channel.


Were you at the panel? Let us know in the comments if we missed any of your favorite moments.