What Are Publishers Actually Talking About Behind Closed Doors?

Blog   |   Operative Team   |   November 6, 2014

Have you ever wanted to put the top national publishers in one room to hear what they have to say about media sales? To hear about their their successes, their wants and their concerns firsthand?

Operative’s Client Advisory Board is composed of major media conglomerates and top comScore publishers who are at the forefront of operational and strategic change. Twice a year, we bring them all together to discuss the current state of the ad industry, discover opportunities for innovation, and debate what new technologies will have the biggest impact on profitability.

Our most recent CAB, which was held at the Dream Hotel in New York, yielded great discussions about how publishers are evolving their business models to go beyond revenue generation and increase profits. We polled the attendees a few times throughout the day.

Here’s what we learned from media companies with national sales teams:

  • 90% of respondents are using 3 ad servers or less per business
  • 60% of respondents are only using 1 ad server
  • All respondents currently earn less than 20% of revenue from programmatic
  • 64% estimate that programmatic will account for 20% – 40% of revenue one year from now
  • 100% feel at least some level of pressure from buyers to support billable viewable impressions
“There’s value in non-viewable and viewable ads. At one point viewability wins, at the other point, targetability wins. We have to be prepared to walk away. Either you want volume or you want targetability. But if you want targetability, you’re gonna have to pay for it.”

Everyone’s on the same train, adopting new technologies in response to executive and market pressure, but the question of which track the train will ultimately choose is left unanswered (for now). Our mission is to let publishers know that they’re the decision-makers. They need to know that they are in control of their own tech stack.

Publishers are concerned with the convergence of TV and video. Our clients are integrating video ad servers into their tech stacks, and selling packaged cross-media deals. When surveyed on the impact of this confluence, we learned:

  • The majority of local companies believe a phased transition from GRP to single-currency systems is necessary.
  • 80% of respondents estimate that more than half their transactions will consist of a single IO within the next 2-5 years. (None can currently claim this)
  • The majority of local companies are currently seeing agency purchases for a single audience, regardless of screen.
“2 years ago we transacted 20% of video alongside 80% of TV, and now it’s reversed to 80% digital today. The complexity of media consumption is an opportunity to bring a broader value prop to clients, but a challenge in that it’s inherently more costly to do so.”


“C-level education [about new technology and innovation] is probably the biggest deficit we have. The knowledge just isn’t there, which creates a lot of fear and concern, leading to short-term business tactics.”

To maximize the efficacy of the summits, our overall goal is to create a free and open line of communication. The Operative engineering team takes everything they hear back to the development table to incorporate into our product roadmap. Attendees are able to share best practices, gain insights from each other and go back to their executives with actionable ideas and strategies that will keep them on the cutting edge of advertising sales and operations.

“The industry has evolved so rapidly over the last 3 years, that it’s caught c-level execs by surprise. The struggle you have at the moment is getting C-level execs to understand the micro versus macro, and then firmly articulate what the impacts are on the business.”


Interested in attending our next summit?

Learn more and request an invite.