DFP Premium and Inventory Management Tools

Published by: Clayton Tarics ,
Published on: January 31, 2013

Hello Ad Ops and Inventory Analyst Friends,

After working on a number of inventory management projects with top-tier publishers over the past several years, I have come to believe that there is something lacking in the tools currently available to easily understand capacity/sell-through and to be able to easily distribute that information across an organization. I’d like to open up a discussion on the topic.

Using DFP Premium as a starting point – the current capabilities to view segments of inventory in a “Sell-through” report are extremely limited. Looking through the content targeting lens, I can only get Site Level + Size views. I can’t look at lower levels of the ad unit hierarchy (zones), and I can’t see any key value slices of inventory. It’s also very limited around mixing other dimensions into that view (geo, audience, etc). To get meaningful segments of inventory, I’m forced to use the “Check Inventory” function on a 1-at-a-time basis, which is just not feasible for reporting purposes.

I know DFP plans to kick up the horsepower on these reports in the future, but even so, I don't think DFP alone will solve what I’m looking for. One of the key limitations is that even if a DFP report were to provide the detail I need, some level of processing/formatting is typically required for the report to be actionable by the rest of the organization (and myself for that matter!).

What I want to solve for:

An actionable inventory report that would serve to provide management with a high-level overview of sell-through, give operations the visibility and awareness they need to steer the boat strategically and ensure fulfillment, and finally to inform the sales team.

What I would like to see:

1. Be able to define my own inventory segments with any mix of targeting and delivery parameters. I would like to define a small handful of segments that would serve as the key indicators of capacity/sell-through for my business. That would probably be somewhere between 15 and 100 segments on average.
a. These segments need to be laid out in user-friendly terms the entire business understands.

2. Be able to easily produce this report on some schedule – nightly, weekly, etc. – with a 3-6 month, monthly view. This report should be automatically generated and distributed via email to needing parties.

3. A plug-in for DFP that could also integrate with a contract/workflow system, SFDC, and possibly other sources of inventory data, like YieldEx.

Bonus Round:

• Incorporate rate card data. Include other metrics like dollars sold, average $ value of available inventory by product or segment
• Visibility into which clients/campaigns have booked which segments
• A view of the pipeline – sold vs. reserved vs. proposed
• Be able to pull ad-hoc reporting as needed with real-time results
• Be able to layer on things like geo-targeting, frequency capping as need to inform the generation of a plan

What are your challenges? What tools/methods are working for you? What would you like to see? I would love to hear your input!

Thank you!

Comments

Richard, Jay, Ben,

Thanks very much for the feedback! I will confess, I was aware of the YieldEx system but was curious to see if anyone would give testimony to any other tools or share any other interests/challenges. I appreciate the additional detail you've shared about how you've found the system to be valuable.

I have heard nothing but great things about the YieldEx system in the past few months. I look forward to speaking with those guys!

-Clayton

Add me as a third - Yieldex is an awesome tool for power users trying to manage complex inventory and forecasting pictures on publishers with lots of overlapping targets. As Richard mentions, the tech crunches your raw ad server logs, so it's not a sample based system. As Jay and Richard mentions, you can do everything on your list, run scenarios, see overlap reports, and get really specific in the data. You can learn things like, what's competing in an ad hoc inventory target at every priority, broken down by line item sitting in your ad server; what the forecasted delivery of every line item in the system is and what is competing with it, graph pretty much any report, save it for use later, schedule it for regular delivery, and export the raw data out if you want to manipulate it further in Excel.

There's really a lot of things to geek out on that provide real value to the business. I've worked with the UI as well as the API offering for a little more than two years and it's really a great product. Get thyself a demo post haste.

Ben

I second Richard. We use Yieldex exclusively for our forecasting engine. It will integrate with your ad server and OMS to give the exact type of visibility you described (in our case, DFP and Operative.One) We have a very high sell through rate and very complex inventory overlaps. That being the case, the type of visibility you are referring to is really mission critical for us.

A literal "availability" report for us would say "0" most of the time. What I need to understand day-to-day is what is available at what level of priority. An ad trafficked on priority 1 will get a very different number impressions than the same exact targeting on priority 8 which is still very different than 14.

You asked about a "plug in" so I think it's worth mentioning that we don't even use the actual Yieldex UI very much. We've built "lookup macros" into our forms that sales uses to request inventory. So it's YX data, but we've incorporated into our RFP workflow in a seamless way. I'm sure you could build something similar into SFDC or however you do your pipeline.

-Jay

Hi Clayton,

Have you given Yieldex a look? Their solution tackles your 1 - 3 above as well as the entirety of your bonus round. You can create your own reporting and analytic 'products' within their interface defined by whatever attributes you choose that are coming from DFP and/or your order management system. Any imp level data can be easily sliced and diced by geo, advertiser, sales rep, reserved vs. proposed vs. sold, etc. Any custom report you create can be saved and reaccessed anytime with up to date data. I know they offer DFP integration. Also worth noting that they provide superior, non sampled-based, inventory forecasting. I consider it an invaluable tool in my day-to-day.

Richard

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