We’re long past the days of slapping ads on a website to make it profitable. Online advertising has advanced to the point where advertisers need more than just audiences at scale. They want their ads to reach the right audience. If a publisher can’t provide a brand or agency with the right targeting, the advertising dollars are going elsewhere.
The good news for publishers is that their sites are already generating the data needed to grow revenue through audience-targeted advertising. But managing that data by themselves is a fool’s errand, so most publishers partner with a Data Management Platform to simplify the process.
I asked David Rowley, Ad Operations Director at BlogHer, for some perspective on the challenges publishers face when they work with data, and how a DMP has made things easier for him:
Trying to manage data on your own is next to impossible and will likely involve hiring extra staff to crunch the numbers, build and install the cookies, and interpret all the data into something you can leverage when making deals with advertisers. That’s one of the biggest reasons why publishers choose partners. Once the integration is complete, the ad ops team can fire up the interface and gain a much deeper understanding of their audience and data.
“One of the main reasons we partnered with Lotame was the intuitive UI,” said BlogHer’s Rowley. “We can see everything we want to know about an audience on one screen, and the interface makes it simple to create, refine, and augment audiences with just a couple of clicks.”
Publishers entering the data field for the first time may approach it with a level of skepticism. After all, what if your DMP requires you to “lock in” to its solution for years, with no updates and little interoperability? Others may wonder if data is just a fad, in which case they may be better off saving their money for the next big thing. In fact, data is here to stay, and publishers need flexible and forward-thinking partners. Failing to look at all the data in the best light or relying on new technology can slow a publisher down tremendously.
“In such a nascent area of the industry, data is going to go through a lot of changes over the next couple years,” says Rowley. “It was critical for us to partner with someone who already has an innovative platform, but is also keeping an eye around the corner, and is looking to push and shape the industry.”
Publishers using audience data on their websites right now also need to be aware of the most up-to-date privacy rules and regulations. All of the advertising on your site needs the Forward I icon, and your site should carry an OBA compliance statement. This can be a burden for your ad ops team if you decide to manually manage it. Luckily, a DMP can help with this process as well. “We didn’t just want a partner who was OBA compliant,” says Rowley. “We wanted someone who has a strong voice in the conversations that are happening – and will continue to happen – in Washington as well.” Compliance will grow in importance during the next few years. Working with a leading company will alleviate the pressure, and will keep you on the side of the angels.
Leading the charge
Ok, now you’ve found a DMP that gives you great insights, easy-to-use tools, and is privacy compliant. That’s a huge leap forward, but it doesn’t quite spell the end of your pain points. One of the reasons data management is so difficult is that so few people are experienced with it. Take the time to find someone to take the lead role in managing your data from an internal standpoint. “If you are lucky enough to have a consultant or a project manager, lean on them,” advises Rowley. “If not, it’s best to have your head of ad operations lead the process. We are the department closest to the data and the platform. We have to know how to use it, target with it, and understand all its capabilities.”
After that, make sure everyone on your team is well versed and trained in the DMP. “Training and continued re-education is extremely important,” Rowley says. “The ad ops team needs to know the platform very well, but sales and marketing need to be just as informed about all the capabilities, because they are the ones creating the marketing materials and talking with ad buyers. If they don’t know what they are selling, your DMP won’t reach its full potential.”
Andy Monfried is the CEO of Lotame.
We’re long past the days of slapping ads on a website to make it profitable. Online advertising has advanced to the point where advertisers need more than just audiences at scale. They want their ads to reach the right audience. If a publisher can’t provide a brand or agency with the right targeting, the advertising dollars are going elsewhere. The good news for publishers is that their sites are already generating the data needed to grow revenue through audience-targeted advertising. But managing that data by themselves is a fool’s errand, so most publishers partner with a Data Management Platform to simplify the process.