By AdExchanger

The Sell Sider is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Greg Mason, CEO at Purch.

The New York Times made its own headlines when it recently acquired Wirecutter, the five-year-old online product review site, for an estimated $30 million.

For one of the world’s biggest and most respected publishers, the acquisition of a niche site like Wirecutter is a low-risk and small-scale investment and builds on its roots in service journalism, as reflected in its news and lifestyle coverage. The New York Times sees itself as an essential service and Wirecutter is an extension of its commitment to servicing users.

But the real reason for the acquisition pertains to publishers’ concerns about the future of the traditional advertising market. Wirecutter is a way to combat this. It’s a very utilitarian site, and with so many lifestyle sites and general content, these niche plays that go beyond entertainment have tangible value, particularly to augment a generalist media entity.

The New York Times realizes the value of serving a lower-funnel audience with purchase intent and the money to be made off this model. The Times’ readers are not coming to the site with a purchase in mind, but that’s their intention when they visit Wirecutter. The acquisition is a way for the publisher to get a slice of this ecommerce spend – on content where it makes sense.

The Times and other publishers aren’t just suffering from the decline of print ad dollars. They simply aren’t seeing the growth they expected or need from digital ads. Facebook and Google are taking 70 cents on every new digital ad dollar and the fight for the remaining 30 cents is hypercompetitive.

Clearly, the Times wants to diversify its monetization and revenue lines. Acquisition is the quickest way to do so, but The New York Times will now have to think about strategically linking the systems or whether to keep Wirecutter as a standalone brand.

It’s not just the Times that is looking to diversify. More publishers are wading into ecommerce and affiliate waters because it’s a lucrative business when done right. I would advise them to do so cautiously.

Publishers can’t add affiliate links and buy buttons to their pages and expect new revenue automatically. Wirecutter serves a very unique purpose and attracts a very specific audience that is looking for specific content. For publishers that have built a following based on general news or entertainment, the same strategies do not apply. Like the Times, it’s important to consider the users’ standpoint, thinking first of their needs and how publishers can service them before weaving in affiliate links and buy buttons in a contextual way.

This sort of monetization belongs on low-funnel content that attracts consumers making buying decisions, rather than general news pages where buy buttons and affiliate links would appear out of context and feel more like an ad than a native, helpful tool.

Before trying to marry content and commerce, publishers must first ensure the ecommerce strategy extends directly from their core content strategy. Publishers must ask themselves where the natural bridges for commerce exist and what products and services actually extend their brand mission overall. They must also have a deep enough understanding of the core demographic profile or interests of their audience to truly provide a valuable service.

Then there’s the consideration of integrity. With all forms of advertising, there must be a separation of church and state with editorial on one side and advertising on another. With affiliate marketing, publishers must also be transparent about how they’re making money so users understand this model. Consumer expectations are evolving and they commonly see affiliate links all over the internet. The key to maintaining trust and integrity is clear communication and sitewide rules for placement and usage of affiliate links.

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By AdExchanger

The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Doug Llewellyn, chief operating officer at Purch. 

Digital publishers are worried about how publishing platforms meant to speed up mobile load times, such as Google’s AMP, Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple’s News, will impact their bottom lines during a period of already-declining ad revenues. A quick look back at some recent history shows why. 

First, publishers saw Facebook cut down their referral traffic in favor of keeping readers within its app and site. Then it launched a mobile publishing platform that promised the traffic back, but at a fraction of the ad revenue and the users would stay within Facebook’s domain. Next, it introduced Instant Articles as a faster-loading alternative to mobile web browsers. 

Sensing an opportunity, Apple and Google recently jumped in with their own platforms aimed specifically at mobile users. While there has been and continues to be some panic within the industry as revenues fall, we need to keep the bigger picture in mind. 

Relying strictly on an ad-supported publishing model is today about as realistic for a publisher as preventing digital piracy once was for the CD-based record industry. As that industry learned, new paths to monetization are always possible as long as the underlying demand for a quality product remains. Restricting access to one platform or another is not generally feasible in the long term.

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By AdExchanger

Today’s column is written by Phil Barrett, senior vice president at Purch.

Mobile advertising is growing faster than all other forms of digital advertising, predicted to reach nearly $42 billion in the U.S. by 2018.

There’s been a general “premium” on this relatively young channel, as the inherent qualities of mobile offer more advanced opportunities for targeting and direct action and have proven to engage users in a way that desktop just can’t. These distinct qualities require a different approach from publishers with regard to creative – ads that become a seamless part of the user’s experience perform better.

This, coupled with the increased demand for mobile ad space, will only raise the premium on mobile, as advertisers will be willing and able to pay more for this limited inventory because their work will ultimately produce a better ROI.

Higher-Quality Advertising

Demand for mobile advertising is surging, yet the smaller screen necessitates a cleaner and less distracting presentation, meaning fewer ads. Publishers are learning a lesson from desktop days – the same approach cannot translate to mobile, as crowding its small screen with too many ads kills the experience.

This limited inventory will create a noticeable shift toward higher-quality ads that actually enhance the user experience. While some of the best-performing desktop ads are often interruptive, it’s the opposite on mobile. Ads on mobile must be part of the overall experience and must be integrated with content, otherwise users will quickly abandon a site or app. Better creative and integration, and a much more seasoned approach to serving the user, will also increase the value – and cost – of mobile ads, as they will be increasingly accepted as a part of the mobile experience.

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By Sara Sluis

When RTB knocks on a publisher’s doorstep, not everyone answers with the same greeting.

While some publishers give it a warm embrace, prioritizing that demand or selling exclusively through programmatic channels, others are more cautious or turning it away. Here’s how publishers are tackling the upsides and blocking the downsides of programmatic.

1. Bring in ad revenue for a new site quickly, creating a foundation for direct sales

When Bauer Xcel Media finally decided to gas up its digital division, it monetized with programmatic first. It plans to add in commerce functionalities next year. Politics-focused Rare did the same thing, as did inspirational and DIY publisher LittleThings. “We had to build a big enough audience in order to have enough to direct sell,” Rare publisher Leon Levitt told AdExchanger. “I don’t want to go out and direct sell banners. Programmatic is fine for that. I want to go out and direct sell sponsorships.”

 2. Trick out your yield management and data platform

Consider what Purch did with a strategy called RAMP (revenue and audience management platform). RAMP determines the value of inventory by including page context, performance and audience. Advertisers get higher-performing placements, and Purch extracts more revenue by matching price with actual value.

Or what video game publisher/developer Gameloft did when it built its own mobile ad server so it could create native ads for its mobile apps that worked better and were less intrusive than those from outside demand partners.

Or even what BBC did, using the analytics functions of its SSPs in order to adjust price floors to improve yield.

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By Sarah Sluis

As private marketplaces have taken off, buyers and sellers have struggled to figure out exactly how to negotiate deals and, once a campaign is live, how to optimize so it actually delivers the expected value. None of the existing models quite work.

Traditionally, sellers optimize direct-sold deals and buyers control programmatic ones. With private marketplaces, the buyer controls the levers but the seller has the insights.

Private marketplaces also change pricing models. Sellers use a rate card to start direct deal negotiations, which can be too expensive for programmatic buyers. However, prices associated with open marketplace auctions can be too low for sellers.

To succeed at private marketplaces, communication must bridge these gaps in pricing and optimization. Buyers and sellers must share data and goals to find a price that works for both sides and send a campaign on a track to success.

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