It’s been a little bit over a month since I started down the path to find out what makes a winning publisher. I’ve thrown out a few questions on the Sovrn Forum, had some discussions on LinkedIn, had various in-person discussions and have talked about it at Opsx in Washington DC and Ops in New York. For me, the journey so far has been extremely valuable. No, sorry, I haven’t discovered the solution yet, nor was I expecting to. In fact, most people don’t think in terms of ‘winning’, but instead of how to achieve forward progress. That makes a lot of sense, especially in an industry where there is so much uncertainty about what is ahead. It’s hard enough to know how server to server is going to impact revenue, let alone consumer’s move to voice, GDPR, Google blocking ads and the inevitability of artificial intelligence.
It’s important, however, to not just charge forward. I would contend that some of our industry’s woes stem from taking a step without looking approach. Example? The open exchange model sacrificed brand safety for liquidity – the market allowed some bad practices to become common practices, all in the name of growing the market. Now, we’re spending an enormous amount of effort to weed out the bad guys in our midst.
But this exercise is about looking forward and while I still search for the goal line let’s talk about some of the discussions I’ve had this past month:
Header bidding for president: I put the question out first, on the Sovrn Community forum, and pretty much got the response that I was expecting. No doubt that header bidding has for most publishers been a win, and will continue to do so. I still want to dive into the impact header bidding specifically has had on department structure. I think there is more nuance there that we can all learn from if more people share their thoughts on that topic. Who isn’t implementing header bidding and why? How much time are you spending implementing and maintaining your header bidding set up? What’s working well?
Viewability is like a vegetable your mom makes you eat. Nope, no love for viewability, especially in the Community. But, like those vegetables, I think viewability is good for you. In my opinion, viewability is a swing too far in one direction to overcorrect for some pretty bad habits. Realize it wasn’t long ago that some premium publishers had 20 ads on a page and didn’t care if anyone could see them. Sovrn clearly saw this and were smart to buy Viewability company OnScroll to help publishers proactively deliver more viewable ads.
That said, “Viewability is now a hammer” as described by the people I spoke to, however, I think this may only be temporary. Eventually, viewability will course correct and we’ll be talking about engagement. Is engagement a win for publishers? I think so. Have you found any great ways to deal with Viewability?
Talking about this stuff is hard. Try anyway. I knew going into this project that I’d be asking operations people to look up from their screens and think about things in a larger context, and just like the AdMonsters conferences, I find some people willing to think ahead and engage and others would rather compare bid density patterns. But this is important stuff. Operations must be both strategic and tactical and, in my experience, it doesn’t matter how “low” you are in the organization, you are in a unique position to provide a perspective that can help your company win.
In fact, I’d suggest diving into this conversation as a career development exercise. My career in ad operations took off once I stopped just doing my job and started to think about how to do my job better. That gave me the ability to be more strategic and be involved in more high-level conversations about whereas a publisher the company was going. That turned my job into a career.
In other words, a win for you is a win for your company. So let’s talk about winning and let’s talk about forward progress. Let’s share ways around the biggest obstacles as well as the new opportunities. So I ask you, what does winning look like to you?
Chairman of AdMonsters
Founder of Beeler.Tech