The Three Pillars Of A Programmatic Strategy

In today’s digital ecosystem, the programmatic paradigm is no longer a trend or a meme. It’s very much a keystone of publishers’ digital strategy.

To that end, it’s fair to say a good amount of ink — print and digital — has been expended to outline the virtues and benefits of programmatic for publishers. Just like any good strategy, so much has to do with the “what,” “when” and “how” of your strategy’s execution — and not just the strategy itself.

At The 614 Group, we believe there are three core pillars that are critical for publishers seeking to maximize revenue return on programmatic efforts.

Pillar One: Let Currents Of Data Carry You Forward…

For years, publishers have been focused on selling direct inventory, sponsorships, packages, and more — and for good reason. These silos are where publishers have created their revenue opportunities. Most publishers have bucketfuls of historical data regarding direct sales efforts (talk about “Big Data”!).

Big Data

Now, paired with those, publishers have the emerging “indirect channel” element to fold in, which presents opportunities — but also short-term challenges. The two must be successfully combined internally into actionable insights. Failure to do so presents a true “miss-the-boat” opportunity, since inventory cannot be fully priced without considering both in a holistic manner.

As many readers of Marketing Land know, interactive publishers have to manage disparate data sets, and that can lead to a rocky journey: data reporting comes from multiple dashboards, creating one massive complex puzzle. But — back to the boat analogy — the trick about inventory data is that it is navigational map; just like the open ocean, data isn’t static. It’s fluid, flows and comes in waves.

These currents and winds will help guide you on which direction you want to take.  Data is always the “true north” on your digital compass. No navigator in today’s publishing realm would only pay attention to the currents (direct inventory) and not the wind (indirect). It’s about reading all the data streaming inwards by holistic design that will help guide you on the smoothest and quickest path forward.

Pillar Two: Row In The Same Direction With More Oars…

Quick fixes won’t do your programmatic strategy any favors. That includes just throwing money at the challenge… or simply hiring a “programmatic genius” to just come in and “manage” your needs. Don’t fall for it.

Building the “just-right,” tailored programmatic strategy takes time. You have to play the “long” game — whether it’s incorporating direct, programmatic, or auction efforts take time. It’s not about one person or a group of people — it’s a cultural and a philosophical shift. Once you have embraced the change, the entire team will need to be on board, in a true, collaborative partnership to drive total revenue.

Why is that important? Well, harkening back to a maritime analogy, when was the last time anyone won a rowing race with one oar? Winning at programmatic is a team sport, requiring all hands on deck.

How does this play out in practice? Progressive sales organizations have their sales folks sell (and comped) on both direct and indirect; no tension, everyone wins. In ad ops and revenue ops, ads are not just “processed”; they are a combined part of the decision-making process that governs which ads to serve and defines a superior ad experience by working in tandem.

On the editorial and site design side, the total ad experience is more fully embraced when the efficiencies gained from programmatic sales translate to more resources being allocated across all operational areas — and back into the site and its content.

Pillar Three: Back To Basics — Relationships Matter

Today, our industry is very focused on the bells-and-whistles of the ad-tech stack. But does a set of pipes truly constitute a new and efficient sales strategy? It doesn’t, especially when you realize how much relationships matter.

There are still people, not just technology, on either side of a deal; it’s only the implementation that is affected. Once you have embraced this line of thinking, it will flow through the entire organization. All revenue will influence pricing, and will also influence the way you work with your agency partners.

The programmatic cycle is shifting under our feet as you read this. The interactive ecosystem is undergoing a cathartic cleansing process — moving from “one-too-many” ad exchanges back to a “one-to-one” model. The result is a gift of “directness” — more direct connections in the form of transparent agreements and more direct conversations through “programmatic direct.”

Taken for granted in the past as a web 1.0 way of doing business; in programmatic, we’re getting “back to basics” in the form of a direct approach. This is an underestimated yet critical part of programmatic’s white-heat evolution. Gone are the days (and daze) of anonymous, faceless relationships. Getting back to practicing the personal connection, the spirit of partnership, the value of content and inventory, and the value of a brand-safe environment produces better ads and higher yield.

The Bottom-Line…

As major publishers and premium brands, we should all have a similar goal: maximize our revenue and simplify the method of partnering with key stakeholders. Programmatic is tactical tool Number One to help achieve that goal in the marketplace.

At The 614 Group, we believe the obvious outcome we are building towards is this: “How will we get to real upfront in digital display?”

The answer has always been in front of us: a guaranteed audience, combined with guaranteed viewable, followed by efficient delivery via programmatic methods will deliver us far down the road to scarcity — creating the perfect upfront environment for your ad inventory.


Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Display Advertising | Display Advertising | Display Advertising Column | Display Advertising: Programmatic Media Buying


About The Author: is a thought leader in the digital marketing industry. His venture, global digital solutions firm The 614 Group, enables results-driven client marketing efforts in the practice areas of content monetization and revenue strategy, brand safety, technology and digital systems integration, and corporate strategy.

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