On Monday, May 22nd, Kirsa Larson, SintecMedia’s Director of Global Managed Services, provided ad operations best practices at the Striving for Campaign Management Perfection session at Brightcove PLAY 2017 in Boston. She was joined by Marcella Regniault, ESPN’s VP of Digital Sales Planning & Client Services, and Scott Lowry, ESPN’s Director of Digital Client Services. This session provided publishers with tips for avoiding under-delivery, errors, and lost revenue as well as addressing discrepancies.
The group discussed key roadblocks and how publishers can overcome them; read below for some of the key conclusions:
Siloed sellers lead to convoluted campaigns
It’s no secret for publishers – there’s a disconnect between the sales and the ad operations teams, which is something that ESPN deals with as well. Kirsa explained that this leads to two issues:
- Overbooked campaigns due to over-targeting and not enough inventory for what’s sold
- Missed revenue opportunities due to lack of education. How can sellers know what’s available in the product catalog if they are not collaborating with the ad ops team?
Marcella’s advice for publishers was to see this sellers versus ad ops disconnect as a built-in checks and balances system. She sees sales as her client. Her role is to protect ESPN’s business, and the seller’s role is to sell. She and her team provide the business with rules with which they can go out in the field and sell. Marcella takes that responsibility seriously and gets feedback on the business rules from the sellers. For ESPN, she found that the stronger the business rules, the better off the campaign does. Her biggest advice for publishers on overcoming this roadblock: negotiation with the sellers. Scott agreed, advising, “If your business doesn’t view operations and sales as a partnership, make that a priority.” He warned that if you don’t, your business will come to a halt and make everything more complicated.
Inventory is complicated
Many publishers are still figuring out how inventory works. Complications around this arise from the following:
- Outdated taxonomy
- Miscommunication between the development and ad ops teams
Unfortunately for many publishers, when the development team makes changes on the website, they don’t plan ahead for how that’s going to affect the inventory. For ESPN, specs have posed a big challenge due to their complicated landscape including mobile, in-app, OTT, web and video. Their challenges lie in terms of complexity and measurement, especially during the past six months to a year. As they move on to new platforms often to accommodate their audience, they find that the ad implementations follow months, maybe years behind. To solve the taxonomy issue, Scott recommends making the specs as easily and digestible as possible.
The dilemma of Guaranteed Performance
Agencies are looking for guarantees, for example, when it comes to viewability. Publishers are offering these guarantees simply because agencies want them, BUT they are still selling on a CPM basis. This leaves publishers in a pickle: having the impression goals to deliver as well as the performance guarantee. The problem is, if the guarantee is not met, figuring out how the makegood is going to happen and what the performances on that makegood would be becomes a logistical nightmare. The solution to this for publishers is that if agencies are looking for viewability, sell viewable impressions. If they are looking for completed views, sell completed views and do not add the layer of impression delivery AND performance delivery.
Content tunnel vision
Audience is a hot topic right now. Publishers are figuring out how to get the right viewer at the right place at the right time. Many small publishers aren’t investing in audience development, so when advertisers are asking for demographics, the only information they have is that the users that viewed the ad visited the site. As you can imagine, that’s not sufficient enough. The way publishers can overcome this roadblock is to work with DMPs to build out audience segmentation, because the content of the site really does not have an inherent value to it aside from the fact that there’s an audience that is likely to view it. Investing in audience development and building out segmentation is really valuable.
In conclusion, these are just a few tips that will help publishers achieve campaign management perfection, and, importantly, provide revenue. The publishers who can best overcome these roadblocks are the ones who believe in interdepartmental collaborations (sales, ad ops, content, editorial, and development) as well as partnerships with trusted vendors. Per Marcella, “Good ads are good content.” Respect your audience and provide a user experience that connects to them. The revenue will come.