2017 is almost done. This time of year, I love reading industry news because everyone will put out their industry predictions for next year. It is always interesting to me to see what everyone is thinking about, particularly for 2018.
However, from my perspective, the speed of change has accelerated to the point where making these kinds of predictions are less valuable. I think it is far better for publishers, in particular, to figure out what their focus is going to be and use that to anchor themselves through what is sure to be another dynamic year.
Publishers, let’s huddle in here for a quick word. Rather than making predictions, I instead want to offer some practical advice on what I would be thinking about if I were a publisher, preparing for 2018.
Transparency & Control
Both transparency and control should top priorities for publishers in 2018. Don’t settle for black box solutions and partial visibility into your auction dynamics. Without control of or transparency into ad decisioning, publishers are putting their business at risk.
I expect a number of publishers will take the simplified route to revenue by outsourcing management of their programmatic stack. I would argue that the publishers who take an active role in understanding their auction dynamics and what is needed to support a healthy auction will be better positioned to thrive.
Ask yourself: Are you and your team equipped for another year of drastic change? Are you reliant on your vendors to provide insights and optimizations? Do you have complete visibility into how your auctions are run? Can you pull real-time reports and analytics to optimize and maintain control over your supply chain?
If you are a publisher that is still not using inventory verification or viewability partners, there is reason to be concerned about your inventory quality. You will probably have some self-inflicted challenges next year if you don’t start investing in partnerships and improved processes now.
At PubMatic, we have seen this become a growing concern in 2017 and expect this to be an area of improvement for 2018. In order to stay ahead of your competition, make sure that you are working with partners, like PubMatic, or MRC-accredited vendors or who are taking a stand for protecting inventory quality.
Ask yourself: How confident are you in your inventory quality? Are there things you can do to improve its value to buyers?
Data is coming more and more important. There is a disconnect, however, with the perception of the value of publisher data today that could impede 2018 growth. As rule of thumb, if data you are providing can be purchased from a third-party data provider, then your data is probably not worth as much as you think it is. Publishers should take a hard look at what they can and can’t do with the data they have or how they can build a better data program.
Ask yourself: Will data be a strength or a potential weakness in 2018? Do you have the tools needed to pull out insights and trends from your data? What are steps you can take to clean your data now so you can use it more efficiently in the near future? What gaps do you have in the data you have and how can you go about filling them to accelerate your growth?
Unification of direct sales and programmatic sales
I have heard now from many publishers that they are expecting their direct sales to decline next year as more buyers are requesting programmatic packages from their publisher partners. If you are a new media company with a small or no direct sales team, you will probably fare a little better.
Conversely, if you are a publisher with a large investment in direct sales operations, 2018 could be more difficult for you. I have spoken to some publishers that have accomplished quite a bit in integrating their programmatic and direct sales. However, I am aware of several others that have been toying with the idea. For these publishers, accomplishing this integration could be a matter of survival.
Ask yourself: What progress have you made in unifying your direct and programmatic sales? What training or processes do you need to implement to facilitate better integration?
2018 is almost here
Whether you feel ready for 2018 or not, it is coming too quickly and all publishers need to be ready for another dynamic year. It is imperative that publishers are agile and prepared with the upcoming regulations and changes to digital advertising. Let us know how we can partner with you as we enter an exciting season of change for programmatic.