Why Publishers Should Act Like Agencies

Here are three good ideas publishers can use to add value to their operations.

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For today’s digital publishers, it’s not enough to simply publish—they need to be able to play the agency role, too.

Think about it like this: Digital agencies offer a central channel where an ad can be purchased on any site or device, whereas standalone publishers can only place ads on the properties they own and operate. To meet broader needs and solidify their presence in the publishing world, publishers need to adopt an agency mindset to fully appeal to advertisers’ multifaceted needs.

What Makes a Good Publisher Great?
Many publishers are capable of racking up page views organically or by buying traffic, but just as many have a tough time meeting an advertiser’s laundry list of needs. Strong publishers know their audience—and their audience’s behavior. They use that information to target their own site, which is all well and good, but they shouldn’t stop there. Publishers need to target the same audience from other websites, too.

That’s what agencies do, and it’s what publishers need to be better at in order to boost their revenue. In other words, a publisher needs to be able to buy ad inventory on other sites, targeting visitors who have been to the publisher’s site before—its audience—on behalf of the advertiser. This is known as reach extension or audience extension, and it’s executed using digital signal processing technology. DSP also enables the associated analytics to be aggregated. This transactional relationship allows businesses to scale, which is the main goal of operating like agencies.

Here’s why it’s important for publishers to serve advertisers’ ads on sites other than their own:

  • Margin: The retail-like dynamic that’s created allows publishers to increase their margins. For example, let’s say Publisher A is a trusted partner to Advertiser B. A’s position allows her to help B find audiences anywhere on the web—with, let’s say, a $4 CPM. Via ad exchanges and supply-side platforms—the technology layer that publishers use to make their inventory available for purchase in the real-time bidding marketplace—A finds the best audience for B for a $2 CPM. B wins because she saves the time and money she would have had to spend looking for this audience, and A wins because she gains access to a larger share of the ad budget.
  • Retargeting:Advertisers commonly use a model for conversion attribution that gives most of the credit (and, therefore, most of the ad revenue) for a customer conversion to the ad tech partner serving the ad the customer saw last. Publisher A won’t benefit when she impacts the customers’ purchases early on. But if she can use her own DSP systems to retarget the customers who visited her site—instead of passing the data along to a third party—the last-click attribution is hers for the taking. In turn, this crucial capability can improve client retention and renewals.
  • Video:Most publishers don’t use video as much as they could for content and ads. On top of that, video ads draw in premium CPMs. Advertiser demand continues to cause premium video inventory to sell out. But publishers can use the same technology that vendors use to access and buy ad inventory and audiences outside their own websites. Just because Publisher A isn’t YouTube doesn’t mean she can’t buy YouTube inventory to make money by securing more video ad spend from Advertiser B.

Solutions are flooding the market, and any given advertiser may be working with a slew of vendors. Publishers offering the ability to advertise solely on their own properties aren’t necessarily out of the game, but those who can step up and serve virtually all of an advertiser’s needs have a distinct advantage.

It’s time for publishers to start acting like agencies by locating customers anywhere on the web to supply everything advertisers need, pull ahead of the pack, and increase revenue.

Katie Risch Author’s page

Katie Risch is the senior vice president of publisher development for Centro. Katie leads the company’s strategic relationships with more than 10,000 publisher partners, boosting publishers’ revenue and business growth.