Virtual Workshops With Real-World Takeaways

On Wednesdays at Publisher Forums, we let the attendees “take over” the conference. Attendee volunteers lead informal sessions with their peers on a variety of topics, and then report major takeaways to the whole group.

Through the magic of technology (cough, Zoom, cough), we ran an experiment where we took this concept virtual. The results seemed to be a success—three publisher revenue specialists led discussions on getting started with Google Data Studio; workflow hacks; and programmatic video. We thought we’d share some of the learnings that came out of these workshops.

Fresh Look at Programmatic Video (led by Gwen Vito, Digital Advertising Strategist at WTOP/Federal News Network)

  • While two of the best known video ad servers out there are GAM and FreeWheel, attendees mentioned that both Playwire and SpringServe are great options especially for resource-starved publishers. The consultative and extra tech help go a long way for small teams.
  • A few attendees mentioned that the move to PreBid for video from the waterfall delivered a dip in performance. Some partners would improve fill and CPMs, but others languished. However, no one was willing to give up on the tech—not just because integration had taken a lot of work! These challenges were seen as growing pains, and ultimately worthwhile to power through.
  • Timeouts in programmatic video can be difficult, especially if a player isn’t the first thing a page loads. Work with your partners to adjust them and experiment with pushing them out further to give your player some breathing room.
  • Pandemic-era fill rates for programmatic video are not pretty—they’re lower than anybody wants to talk about. And the trouble is, there don’t seem to be any clear cut best practices for pushing them up. There are things not to do—mainly, lowering floors to boost fill. This is not display—you’re not risking some low-quality ads showing up. Instead, fill rates stay the same while… CPMs drop. Yikes.

Reporting Mojo With Google Data Studio (led by Clay Berish, Advertising Operations Manager at Gannett Media)

  • Amazing that there is a free tool to help create dashboards. It takes only a few clicks to connect up Google Ad Manager 360, Google Analytics and other Google products. For other data sources, there are connectors. Some people pull in their Order Management System Data.
  • The session talked through making these tools available to sales and marketing, helping automate report requests made of ad operations. Clay spoke to how providing these reports in this way really shows the value of Ad Operations as a resource. Clay also uses Data Studio for his own team.
  • It doesn’t do everything some had chosen other solutions, but it looks like for a lot of publishers, the price can’t be beat.

Workflow Hacks (Led by Paul Cook, Director of Ad Operations and Systems Support at Trader Interactive)

  • There are many parts of the ad ops workflow that can be put together without relying on big, expensive Order Management Systems, especially if you don’t have the resources or your setup isn’t that complex. Still, many folks are working with vendors like Cloudsense, and Operative.
  • If you have products that are repetitive to set up and scalable, you can create free order management by using Google Forms & Sheets as a workflow.
  • Key value pair daily reporting is an easy way to keep a pulse on your systems. Again, using a Google Sheet hack instead of a vendor. But, you can do similar reporting with a vendor like Qliksense and even use it for managing teams by tracking how many work orders people are working on.
  • One size does not fit all. Not everything is meant to be hacked. Sometimes it’s best to let the professionals do their thing.

We had a great time hosting these workshops—and learning a lot ourselves! We hope to do more community-building stuff like this in the near future, but we also suggest you join your peers at events like our webinar on personalization (with a focus on browser push notifications) on June 18. See you all soon, and stay safe!