Facebook Shows Publishers How to Get Comfortable With Buying Platforms

Programmatic buying lessons from the social network

There’s been a lot of talk recently about Facebook’s warm hug with a few select Demand Side Platforms. This is not a surprise move by Facebook and neither are the restrictions they are placing on buyers. For example, only allowing buyers to bring their own data. Targeting data from Facebook will not be available, yet, but this is their way of maintaining control when launching their programmatic offering.

Since January, I’ve been seeing a wave of big publishers exploring the methods of how to put their own offerings into programmatic buying platforms. Companies spanning from big content players, portals and even major commerce sites that hold a gold mine of purchase intent data.

Just this week alone, three major players have confirmed these strategies publicly. Michael Barrett made it clear that this is a goal and a reason to move to Yahoo as their CRO. “(At AdMeld) I saw directly how the whole biddable media, programmatic buying, platform buying was impacting (premium publisher’s) business. I always thought there was a way to tie both biddable media and direct, premium, branded sales team together.”

Also, Microsoft’s VP of Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Rik Van Der Kooi told AdExchanger, “We are looking at programmatic both as real-time bidded but also programmatically available, even if it’s not RTB – just making it seamless to access. We’re looking at what other offerings are we going to put on the exchange from today’s inventory.”

With Facebook making their inventory available programmatically, other publishers competing for market share should feel continuing pressure to follow suit with transparent offerings of their own. RTB is exploding and audience buying is being adopted by the largest of brands and CPG advertisers.

Every publisher faces fear and asks the same questions when considering making their tier one, cream of the crop inventory available in buying platforms:

  1. Will offering inventory in a programmatic manner bring a downward trend of my CPMs?
  2. Will advertisers be able to take my audience?
  3. Will it cheapen my brand and create conflict with my sales people on the street?

My answer to these questions are: You don’t lose control here if you set restrictions and manage it, just like Facebook does.

Here are some ways to do this:

1) Hard CPM floors – The common misconception with buying platforms is that all of the inventory available in platforms are in a bidded format only. Having a hard floor that is visible will prevent your overall CPMs from being driven down even in direct sales. It will be clear to the programmatic planner that they pay the same as the traditional planner, it is just seamless for them to access your media. 

2) Advertiser Approvals – Restrict advertisers from placing pixels in their creatives to run on your media and your audience data is safe. Right Media has been able to restrict this for years, you can demand it and control it as well. This will allow you to control channel conflict with your direct sales team.

3) Push Your Brand – Be transparent with your offering, don’t hide it through an SSP or a network. Maybe even make it exclusive to certain DSPs and trade desks, like Facebook did (and they have repeated it since day one). If you have a brand, leverage it. The DSPs are all clamoring to differentiate, pick a few that have access to the advertisers and agencies you work with today. They’ll flip to get your inventory and your brand in their platform, even if you charge rate card, with no bidding.

In summary, publishers can absolutely play in the programmatic world without losing control. As more planners turn to platforms to fill their budgets (often at the last minute), your brand will be there waiting. Sales people armed with white papers don’t justify your high prices. Your brand, content, performing inventory and ripe audience is why you are getting bought. Is your offering better than what Facebook just dumped into the market? Was it better when MySpace was unloading their inventory for pennies? Don’t be afraid, just keep the control you deserve.

OPS Macro-level changes are coming, and you can sieze the opportunities that follow at OPS NY. This event will bring together digital advertising leaders and ops professionals to discuss a rapidly evolving landscape and develop strategies for monetization. Register today for OPS NY which will be held Oct. 4, 2012.