Redefining the Ad Network in a Programmatic-Driven Environment

Dorine Klapholz
Senior Programmatic Manager
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The online world is rapidly shifting towards programmatic advertising. Many publishers are eager to move their inventory away from ad networks and towards SSPs and exchanges so they can fully enjoy the technological wonders that programmatic is providing. In fact, a recent study showed that almost half of all online display ads are bought using programmatic media-buying technologies.

In short, programmatic advertising is a more automated media buying and selling process which has 178143896 360_214-minsomewhat diminished the need for an entire ad ops team to manage a publisher’s inventory. With the help of complex algorithms, programmatic advertising is aimed to help publishers maximize the value of their traffic and advertisers to reach their target audience at the best-fitting rate.

Before programmatic advertising existed, ad networks were created to connect the myriad of advertisers and publishers in the online eco-system, acting as brokers between the supply and demand. Now that this process has become automated thanks to programmatic advertising, some believe the role of ad networks has disintegrated.

Though programmatic isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, ad networks are still of worth in this ecosystem. To achieve the best possible results, finding a healthy marriage of the two is key as ad networks can indeed provide added value to campaigns that cannot be substituted by technological advancements.

What type of value? A full-service environment, a monetization gateway and a dedicated account manager to name a few. Whereas programmatic can make our lives much easier, it’s still important to remember what the human touch can provide us with.

The Gateway to Relationships

An ad network acts as one monetization gateway for publishers. Instead of connecting to each demand source individually, a publisher can connect to one ad network that is linked to a large variety of demand sources (both programmatically & not), including: direct advertisers, marketplaces, exchanges and other ad networks. These diverse demand sources enable a publisher to concentrate all of his activity (mobile, social, display, video etc.) in one place. They also allow ad networks to offer close to 100% fill at the most optimal rate.

In a way, an ad network acts as salesperson for its publishers, taking advantage of its close-knit relationships with its demand sources to allocate and reserve budgets for its publishers. It can also recruit advertisers that are specifically relevant for its publishers.

Peace of Mind

Most often, ad networks integrate technology to help them measure their inventory in a more accurate manner (e.g., viewability measurement tools, data gathering tools etc.), allowing them to sell the publisher’s inventory at the highest-valued CPM. Many ad networks also add extra layers of protection for publishers and their users in terms of quality assurance and brand safety. This is not to say that programmatic is unsafe, though a recent study showed that brand safety was the main concern for those buying inventory programmatically.

In an environment that is oversaturated and overwhelming such as this one, a full-service environment offers publishers more peace of mind by enabling them to have more control over who can buy their inventory and with what advertisements. At the root of this full-service strategy is human touch, aka, an account manager.

The Human Touch

An ad network provides the publisher with a dedicated account manager, whose main objective is to help the publisher reach optimal revenue while keeping the publishers’ needs and goals in mind. Although the online world is becoming more and more automated and technology-focused, human intervention is still necessary in order to make adjustments, customize and capitalize on opportunities that an auction-based environment may not be able to do. For example: opening dedicated campaigns and private marketplace deals.

In addition, a dedicated account manager can act as a consultant by advising on site layout changes for increased revenue and user experience while simultaneously working closely with advertisers to produce custom-tailored banners. A dedicated account manager is responsive to the publisher’s growth as well as to the growth of the industry in general. He is willing and able to navigate the publisher through these ongoing changes by helping him run tests (even if it means taking risks at a lower margin) and by offering him the newest products available (e.g. special formats, native, video etc.). Account managers, such as the ones at Matomy, can consult with the publisher on strategies to boost revenue.

That being said, some publishers might not be seeking assistance with items such as creative, and might not be as inclined to know the timing of their campaigns, for which programmatic would be ideal.

To Sum it up

Ad networks must adapt to the world of programmatic, focusing on how the technology programmatic provides is complimentary to the added value that comes with a network (optimization, customization, brand safety etc.). Though a future of programmatic robots could potentially lead to increased productivity, merging the two allows you to enjoy the best of both worlds – the automatic and technology-focused programmatic world coupled with human-intervention.

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