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  • Writer's pictureTPA Digital

The Importance of Publisher Direct Relationships

This article will briefly touch upon how the publisher role has changed, and the value that these relationships can bring to your programmatic strategies. Brands and agencies are no longer solely ‘buying blind’ in the open exchange. It’s now vital to know the publishers you are working with, and the environment in which your campaigns are displayed, in keeping with evolving standardisations.

The early adoption of programmatic solved the large challenge of ‘remnant’ inventory not being monetised for many publishers. Speaking from publisher-side experience working with a wealth of first-party data, it was a huge opportunity to capitalise below the fold ad space and less sought-after ad slots. Publishers suddenly gained access to a new lucrative range of clients and budgets that were otherwise unattainable before the introduction of programmatic. It was a win on mass for larger digital publishers and equally the agency world. Considering the lower floor rates available to agency clients (particularly performance) in the open marketplace (OMP). Both the OMP and private marketplace (PMP) were significant revenue streams for publishers previously untapped, and all sides were seemingly reaping the rewards.

So, why build the relationship?

There are many benefits to maintaining positive publisher direct relationships. The increasing and complex paths to supply may assist or hinder your campaign. Publishers will sell their inventory through several exchanges, and there is no real telling what percentage of site inventory is allocated to what SSP for the client. Having a solid partnership in place will educate clients (advertiser or agency respectively) on who they should be working with to get inventory, insights, and data of the highest quality. Regular spenders and those fostering direct relationships will no doubt benefit from unique audience sets and exclusive placements.

Random traffic is no longer of value. Considering brand safety and GDPR, it is no surprise that open marketplace auctions have seen a decline. According to Insider Intelligence, PMP spend is set to overtake OMP spend by approximately $0.17bn in 2021, surpassing an impressive $0.06bn increase in private marketplace deals throughout 2020. Conversely, programmatic-guaranteed, and curated marketplaces have become more common to adhere to emerging regulations. Publishers are building first party data sets and therefore could offer unique audiences and new targeting opportunities to those whom they have a direct relationship with. Moving into a cookie-less future, the onus is on quality data, and with that, some of the power is back with the publisher. Having your ads in a safe and curated environment is often more brand-safe and provides an opportunity for publishers to make recommendations on the formats or inventory that work best to meet the business objectives.

Publisher direct relationships also bring the opportunity of testing new technologies. If for example, the creative platform you are using isn’t compatible publisher-side, the publisher may be more inclined to test your vendor or look deeper into site capabilities to see how they can increase your campaign success on their site. New ad slots and formats are more of a conversation rather than a question when you are engaging with your publisher.

Similarly, troubleshooting is more effective when the publisher is also monitoring your activity and has the intel on the objectives of the campaign. They can flag issues with delivery to you, the advertiser. This proactivity is invaluable and extremely beneficial for campaign pacing. Publishers want advertisers buying their inventory; therefore, it is in their best interests for your campaigns to excel. When working on the sell-side, much of my time was spent working with my account executive and ad operations colleagues to ensure our client activity was delivered in full, using our combined expertise and experience to offer guidance for optimising the digital campaigns.

As the focus on transparency and user experience intensifies, so will the need to establish virtuous relationships with key partners throughout brands’ programmatic supply chain. The risk of ad fraud, brand safety and transparency to brands and publishers is paramount. First-party data sets will become even more valuable, and brands must keep updated as to how they can fully leverage the wealth of first-party data in accordance with developing regulations. Publisher direct relationships will improve efficiency, user experience and brand affinity when approached correctly.

Contact us if you would like to learn more, or develop your own, publisher relationships.

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