The mechanics of publisher monetization

Our EMEA Managing Director, Jason Trout, talks about his experience of being on the mechanics of publisher monetization panel at ATS London.

This week I was part of a panel at ATS London 2018, which was focused on the mechanics of publisher monetization. I was joined by the Digital Sales and Innovation Director for The Telegraph Karen Eccles, Damon Reeve from the Ozone Project and Jourdain Casale, VP of Global Intelligence at Index Exchange. 

It was a really interesting panel to be a part of. Especially as publisher monetization continues to be a key talking point within our industry, and a key focus area for us as a business. We began the discussion by talking about how publisher monetization strategies have changed over the past 12 months.

New marketplaces

At Unruly we have seen first hand how premium publishers are slowly pulling away from tackling their competition individually, to a more collective approach. This has led to alliances and JV’s such as Ozone, the Verified Marketplace and the Premium Sport Marketplace. These marketplaces are becoming more and more popular among advertisers and it’s easy to see why when you look at the stats. The Verified Marketplace’s UK reach alone is over 39.4 million, and the average viewability of ads is 78.6%, which is 15.1% higher than the MOAT benchmark.

The conversation then moved to the shift in focus from open market-places, to a more closed and controlled market, and whether this presents an opportunity for publishers to develop closer relationships with advertisers.

I’ve heard buyers say for several years now that they want to transition from managed to programmatic ad delivery. At Unruly we’ve seen this trend play out firsthand but we’ve also seen an increase from the buy-side requesting guarantees in their programmatic deals.

As new models mature, like Programmatic Guaranteed (PG), you will see closer relationships forged between programmatic buyers and publishers. I believe this is a natural progression as models like PG closely mirror that of traditional IO and direct-sold business, where both buyer and seller negotiate directly.

consuming news on an ipad

PMPs versus programmatic

We then moved on to look at the scalability challenges with PMPs versus programmatic and automated guaranteed, and how they could be overcome. In my opinion, PMPs in their current guise will continue to offer both buyers and sellers an environment away from the open exchange to practice control. That said, we are seeing a growing trend from buyers to secure guarantees in their PMPs. This has resulted in the increase of programmatic guaranteed features we are seeing released from both buy and sell-side vendors.

When we talk about scale, traditional PMPs have always struggled to meet this requirement as there has never been a commitment from publishers to send volumes. At the same time, buyers have lacked commitments to spend. Programmatic guaranteed is evolving at exactly the right point in time. We know the holding costs are under immense pressure to become 100% programmatic and at Unruly, we believe PG sits at the intersection of the IO and legacy PMP. We expect it to be the catalyst to increased spends in programmatic this year.

Publisher monetization opportunities

Finally we touched upon new monetization opportunities, and what the tech layer is doing to help and support publishers with this. I believe we need to first understand the value of a publisher buying, rather than licensing. In some scenarios M&A is the logical path, that said, very few of the publishers I have spoken to actually have the appetite to start spending hundreds of millions on tech and data assets when they are fully aware that in the age of GDPR and social networks it is data, context, and service that help you to truly differentiate, not ad or martech ownership.

To find out more about the Verified Marketplace and our other offerings check out our products page. Alternatively get in touch with one of our team.

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Unruly insights from ATS London