High-Touch and High-Tech: Why Publishers Need to Accommodate Both for Advertisers


If publishers want to win over a newer breed of advertisers, they’ll need to revisit what was great about the high-touch old ways. The technological innovation that makes programmatic advertising sales such a boon leaves one important gap, and that’s a personal touch. Accommodate both, and you’ll have a winning combination that sells.

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It’s a brand new landscape for advertising. You’ve probably heard something similar before, but this time it’s not all bad news. Although consumers are pickier than ever about what they’ll respond to, both publishers and advertisers have a new opportunity to reach and hold an audience. It requires

Programmatic Sales Isn’t On its Way Out, it’s Just Evolving

Programmatic ad sales seemed like the answer to a wish. Instead of long and dreary phone calls and poring over details, this sophisticated technology enabled advertisers to purchase ad space automatically. Publishers saved time, and so did advertisers. It felt like an all-around win.

Negotiations about pricing, ad placement and the host of other decisions that made advertising a less than thrilling proposition became lighter and more streamlined. All that an advertiser had to do was enter a set of parameters, such as the subject, audience and budget constraints, and the program did the rest. Voila: Ad space was purchased, and nobody had to haggle about any detail.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the publisher’s bank. Advertisers missed the involvement, or at least some of it. Media Financial Management Association president and CEO, Mary M. Collins, says at Net News Check that while the use of programmatic ad sales technology has really just begun, publishers need to take a step back and respond to the client’s desire for a little more control.

Advertisers Still have Faith in Digital

Digital ad spending keeps ticking upward, even though ad-blocking software and other filtering methods keep growing more sophisticated. Some ads won’t display at all where ad blockers are installed, and other ads are modified. Some even go directly to the ad source, according to Mojn, to prevent an ad from displaying. It’s big business, and users are enthusiastic about installing the next greatest update to keep ads at bay.

Even so, digital ad sales are on a trajectory that will outpace traditional television ads this year, according to Collins. It’s a pattern that’s been visible since at least 2009. Spending has doubled from 12 percent to 24 percent on digital in that time. And it’s projected to reach 36 percent by 2019, according to Forrester Research Digital Marketing Forecast 2014 – 2019. Television spending, on the other hand, is projected to decline to about 30 percent of the overall ad spend.

Ad blocking remains so popular because people don’t want to be bothered, and because some ads carry the potential for malicious content. But the right ads make it through some of the more popular programs, such as AdBlocker Plus. What makes an ad “right” could be “size, placement or distinction, according to Wired magazine. Wired explains that the ad blocker industry is growing fast. Not only that, they make money off some of the ads that they evaluate. If the publisher agrees to split the revenue, ads can be “whitelisted” and allowed to pass on through.

Old-school service gives advertisers the ability to control content by audience.

High-Tech Programmatic Advertising Meets Old School Service

Customization was part of what made old-school ad sales work for advertisers. And Collins explains that marketers still want that involvement. In an era where people can easily install ad blockers, but ad blockers might also whitelist under the right circumstances, ad content and audience engagement are becoming more important all the time.

Programmatic ad sales has made the process easier, and it has also helped advertisers find a broader market than they might have without it. Instead of selecting a publication for ad placement, the technology analyzes the advertiser’s requirements and makes the selection without any input. Clients want some of that input back because what an ad blocker finds and a viewer or reader sees is proving to be just as important as the publication where the ad is hosted.

Ad content plays a major role in a campaign’s success. It’s got to grab attention, but that can’t happen if the advertiser doesn’t have any information about where the ad will land. She might have a different message for one publication than she would for another. So blending high-tech programmatic sales and the high-touch, old-fashioned involvement looks like the next evolution in creating ads that someone will actually see.

The ease with which advertisers can buy ad space grabs a lot of the attention that’s given to programmatic sales. But there’s another element that’s at least as valuable today, and that’s the data being collected. The same data that helps programmatic sales make the right decisions for ad placement also holds keys for improving ad quality. This allows publishers to “provide service at the intersection of high tech and high touch,” says Collins.

The ability to create ads that are customized for the audience combined with ad placement in just the right location appears to be the best of both the high tech and the high touch worlds, at least for the moment. Stay tuned for the next evolution, because there’s always another one. High tech and high touch aren’t contradictory, not at all. And where publishers are prepared to ramp up their level of customer service by offering both, everyone appears to be on a winning side.

Advertising has been treading some fairly rocky terrain for several years. Just as one avenue starts to gain a foothold, something new comes along to threaten the foundation. But by many accounts, ad sales are starting to settle and even grow. Stay on top of what’s yet to come by Subscribing to Recruitment ADvisor today.

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