John Potter, chief technology officer, Purch 
Most publishers are slow to adopt server-to-server connections because they don’t have the technical know-how to integrate and scale these products. But under the direction of John Potter, tech network Purch — which runs websites like Live Science and Top Ten Reviews — built its own server-side product and has sold 100 percent of its display inventory through it since November. Potter says going to server-to-server was the only way Purch could bring on enough demand partners to get the true value of its inventory. Purch has already integrated 30 demand partners into its server-side product without slowing its load times. By the end of the year, it will likely add another 10 partners, Potter says. — Ross Benes

Read more on Digiday.com: https://digiday.com/media/digiday-changemakers-media/

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By Ross Benes

Relying on ad tech vendors is a hard habit for publishers to quit.

Because vendors eat into publishers’ revenue and slow down their pages, pubs are eager to purge them to have more control over their own tech stacks. But even if a publisher has a strong internal tech team that is capable of building its own products to replace third parties, a lot of vendors stay embedded in publishers’ stacks because pubs don’t want to pay engineers to monitor and tweak these products, and they want somewhere to turn for a quick fix whenever there is a malfunction.

“Sometimes I need a neck to throttle when something breaks,” said a publisher head of product requesting anonymity, when asked why his company outsources some of its ad tech.

When deciding whether to build ad tech themselves, publishers make decisions based off their core competencies. A rep from a comScore top 100 pub with a strong video focus said it built products to replace video vendor Brightcove and native-ad vendor Sharethrough because native and video are major parts of this pub’s business model, and the investment would pay off in the long run since the publisher only expects video and native to grow. But the publisher declined to build its own ad server for display inventory.

….

There are also ad tech vendors whose products benefit from economies of scale that wouldn’t be possible if a single pub were to go in alone. Purch has a tech team that built its own server-to-server product that it uses to sell all of its programmatic inventory server-side, which is rare among publishers. But it keeps around bad-ad detectors like Ad Lightning and Media Trust because those vendors offer sophisticated detection since they learn from the billions of impressions they analyze across multiple clients, said Purch CTO John Potter.

Read the full article here: https://digiday.com/media/publisher-vendor-habit/

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By Ross Benes

Here’s one more thing for small publishers to worry about: New net-neutrality rules are going to jack up the costs of doing business.

Rolling back net neutrality would relegate independent publishers to the slow lane of the internet because they’d be unable to afford access to high speeds. Large publishers with more cash can overcome this obstacle, but they’ll be hit with onerous fees and face possible competitive disadvantages from subsidiaries of internet-service providers receiving preferential treatment.

“I suspect that ISPs would create different tiers of data transmission speeds and prioritization,” said Fred Lane, an attorney who specializes in emerging technologies. ”Large corporations would be in a position to negotiate preferential treatment in ways not available to smaller content producers.”

See the full article featuring comments from CTO John Potter here: http://digiday.com/media/net-neutrality-hurt-publishers/

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By Max Willens

On Monday, The New York Times announced it had purchased The Wirecutter and its sister site, The Sweethome, for just over $30 million. The deal gives the Gray Lady a new source of income and its first taste of affiliate marketing, a revenue stream publishers have been exploring to supplement display ad revenue.

The Times is hardly the first publisher to go there. Publishers have for years been trying to get credit for the purchases they inspire on their pages and websites. Some experiments are now scuttled, like New York magazine’s Shop-A-Matic and ShopVogue.tv, but new ones are popping up all the time: In the past two months, Style.com relaunched as a commerce hub, and New York unveiled The Strategist, a web page offering product recommendations.

But these days, publishers aren’t trying e-commerce out as an experiment. Several publishers’ operations have gotten more sophisticated. Here are three ways publishers are making e-commerce into a real business.

Rewarding loyalty
Two years ago, Purch, a publisher of B2B and B2C brands that earns more than half of its revenue from e-commerce and lead generation, decided that it was overly reliant on search traffic, and that it needed to find a way to get more people to come back to its owned and operated sites.

Purch launched Perks, a loyalty site similar to another site it acquired, Active Junkie. Perks customizes its look and feel based on the site its visitors arrive from and has a loyalty program that offers cash to shoppers as a reward for buying there.

While Perks has only been live for a month, it’s already attracting the same number of daily users that Active Junkie did. “I’d much rather make $3 off you three times than $5 off you once,” said Phil Barrett, Purch’s senior vp and gm of shopper services. “Give away and build trust, and you will be rewarded.”

Read the full article here: http://digiday.com/publishers/three-ways-publishers-bringing-sophistication-e-commerce/

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By Ross Benes

Publishers have gotten data religion.

A few years ago, publishers began enlisting data scientists to help with audience building and monetization. But back in 2014, publisher data teams usually consisted of only a person or two. Since then, several publishers have expanded their number of full-time data experts. And their roles have grown too. Media data scientists are now developing apps based on machine learning, shaping content-management systems, teaming up with first-party data providers and testing augmented reality features. Here are a handful of large publishers that have increased their emphasis on data analysis.

Mashable
In 2013, Mashable brought on Haile Owusu, who has a doctorate in theoretical and mathematical physics, as its chief data scientist to work on the site’s analytics tool that predicts which articles will go viral. Since then, Mashable has hired two additional full-time data analysts and added an intern. In the past year, the data team led by Owusu has helped shape Mashable’s new CMS and its Knowledge Graph tool, which tracks how branded content on Mashable is shared through social platforms, email and text messages. The team was not affected by the round of 30 layoffs Mashable did in April. “There was a pent-up demand for insights around the performance of our content,” Owusu said.

Purch
The tech network, which publishes Top Ten Reviews and Live Science, is a different type of publisher in its data focus and commerce-heavy strategy. Purch launched its own ad tech platform, Ramp, in 2014. Since then, its number of data scientists grew from one to five. Their focus is mostly on creating recommendation models that pair content with related consumer products. “We realized how much data we had and that we needed to analyze it to know whether we were charging the right price for advertising,” said Purch CTO John Potter. With Microsoft’s HoloLens, Snapchat’s Spectacles and Google Glass in the news, Purch’s data team has been testing augmented reality features in Purch-owned shopping app ShopSavvy.

Read the full article here: http://digiday.com/publishers/newsrooms-expanding-data-teams/

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