In an unpredictable year, it’s fairly easy to predict that this Q4, most digital publishers won’t be subject to low readership or ratings. People shopping online and staying home for the holiday season may create so much digital consumption that it may become like a virtual Super Bowl.
From shopping sites to lifestyle publishers with holiday content, to entertainment publishers helping people enjoy their leisure time, to everyone else with audiences that advertisers want to sell to, publishers have more to offer than ever before.
This holiday is likely to look completely different from anything advertisers have seen. Navigating new audience behaviors is hard enough, advertiser goals are also particularly high after a tough year, and their need for flexibility is great.
They’ll be more open to publisher insights and recommendations that help them achieve their goals while allowing them to react quickly to new customer behaviors.
Publishers know best how people have been responding on their own content in the past few unprecedented months. With the right approach, they can find the sweet spot between meeting advertiser needs and selling new offerings.
Instead of scrutinizing CPMs and impressions to eke out every last drop of value while dealing with restricted resources, brands and publishers can now start getting a bit creative again.
Of course, there will be plenty of retargeting money on the open web, but there will also be opportunities to help brands with contextual, branding and new audience advertising as well. Publishers have often treated programmatic as a passive revenue channel, and direct advertising sales as an active channel.
That’s an outdated approach.
Publishers should be actively packaging and selling programmatic, not only to capture more revenue in Q4, but also to pave the way for 2021.
Advertisers only know what they know, and will need partners to help fill in the gaps. Publishers should be actively analyzing site behaviors and packaging new audience segments. Everyone used to have Thanksgiving with the relatives, but this year there could be millions of people in new segments such as “stay-at-home-cooks” vs. “ordering out.”
Publishers need to think about how to surface the right inventory, not just audiences, in this new 2020 marketplace. Brands are focused on specific retail categories that are seeing lift for the holiday season such as electronics, fashion and sporting goods.
Creating “gift guides” that allow buyers to target in-market shoppers by special content categories is a great way to get a conversation going with advertisers.
Private marketplaces (PMPs) are a good place to flex some programmatic muscle in order to attract any budget that advertisers have moved from channels like linear TV, live events and out-of-home.
Now is the right time to consider activating first-party data to get more value than simply selling through the open marketplace and through targeting from third-party data providers. With a good first-party data strategy, publishers can showcase their unique audiences through a Deal ID now that can become long-running packages in 2021.
Publishers should also review their advertiser category blocks and re-evaluate whether it makes sense to implement changes across integrations, especially in shopping categories. For publishers with mobile, video or OTT inventory that still has room to grow, that can be packaged to fit advertiser targets as well.
Publishers will be even more successful when inventory is enhanced with identity partners. Advertisers with specific identity requirements will only bid on inventory that matches it, so publishers are missing out if they aren’t able to work with a variety of identity partners.
In addition to capturing more demand, having a good identity solution in place can help increase match rates.
Advertisers won’t have amnesia come January. Media buying will change significantly as they forge bonds with publishers that can add insights, value and scale to their evolving strategy. Making it easy for advertisers in Q4 will keep the door open to continued discussion next year.
As programmatic OTT evolves, as identity becomes a bigger part of the media buy, and as advertisers learn about new audience segments and behaviors, their media plans will likely be more generous to the publishers that actively drive value, not just passive scale.
Jaan Janes is Vice President, Customer Success, Americas at PubMatic. He is responsible for managing and growing the company’s publisher customer relationships—and their revenue—with a current focus on wrapper technology, programmatic video and in-app monetization. Jaan also provides strategic insights to the senior leadership teams of PubMatic’s publisher partners.
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