New York Times programmatic advertising director on technology challenges and native ad unit, Flex Frame

The New York Times' Sara Badler on technology challenges and native ads

The New York Times is addressing a lot of the trends that are currently surging the programmatic industry right now. Speaking to its director of programmatic advertising, Sara Badler, she expresses that the biggest challenge right now is with the technology platforms.

Badler says publishers and marketers are 'ready, willing and set up to transact' but the question lies in the execution.

What have been the biggest challenges in programmatic sector of the industry has had to contend with over the past year?

From a publisher perspective, the New York Times is 100% set up to transact programmatically in the same way we do directly, but the technology platforms and executions are always changing and it's continuously a transition phase. Publishers and marketers are very ready, willing and set up to transact but it is always a question of how we execute it.

It is beginning to be addressed in terms of effectiveness, I think we're in an industry that's always changing and has a lot of transition. To address it is really solidifying it and saying that we know the transition phase is going be happening for a while as we try to figure out the main points and challenges.

What do you think are the key trends in the US?

A lot of the trends are the different products we are creating. Audience Guarantee, the programmatic product where you can actually layer on data, is a trend that we are seeing more and more marketers react to.

I think the concept of programmatic guaranteed and the concept of non-guaranteed preferred deal, creating some sort of blend is a trend. So, advertisers are not necessarily not wanting guaranteed inventory or a private market place but a decision on how to do both.

How is the New York Times addressing that?

Everything is obviously competing in our market places like dynamic allocation, different prioritization based on what a client’s needs are, that's something we are doing and then increasing over all yield on our site.

Depending on how much the client wants to bid on that impression is how we're letting them decide on it.

What are your views on native advertising?

This is happening now and we've been talking about it for a year or two and now we're in a place where we can transact. We are able to do that with the Google Native product, so if advertisers want to enable their native creative we can do that. We also have an amazing unit that we created called the Flex Frame and we're working on a solve for enabling to transact programmatically.

Our unit will be able to make an ad unit look native to the New York Times. It's beautiful and engaging in terms of the KPIs and right now we are working with Google on how that can be integrated programmatically, so that it will be able to activate from our computers.

Currently, we are using the Google Native product as well, so if clients want a native competent to their campaigns programmatically, they can use this.

Can you explain some of the efforts to co-ordinate your need of advertising efforts over the last 12 months?

We have been working around the clock with our partners like Google, making it so that it is aesthetically pleasing to show the Google Native on our site. We have seen that advertisers have an interest for it and then also of course with our Flex Frame product and ad unit, we've been using that and working on how to make it transact programmatically.

One thing the New York Times has done a great job of is that we've treated programmatic in the same way as we treat direct. It’s just a way of transacting, it's not necessarily a preference of one or the other. The process behind native or any sort of ad unit that you think is high impact or sponsorship, what we've done is try to work with our partners on how we can make that transact programmatically in the same way and seamless way we do direct. I don't think we're there yet but we're all on a dedicated path to there.

Where do you see the industry going in the next 12 months?

I’m a huge fan of the product audience guarantee. I think that is definitely a product that’s taking off in our industry. It's working for marketers and we're really excited about it.

It has been in beta testing for the past year but the New York Times has been working with clients in the US and internationally on this product. I don't want to say it's the next big thing because it has been a thing, but I think it's something that we're doing a really good job at and we're seeing really impressive results.

As a judge for the Digital Trading Awards USA 2017, how do you see being awarded advantageous for those in the programmatic industry?

Every award is exciting and an advantage in the industry. It shows that you're a leader in the space. I think that programmatic has evolved so much over the past year that I think it has gotten quite niche but is still recognized by everyone in the publishing, adverting and marketing world. Anything to get one of these awards is a major opportunity.

How important do you think these awards are regarding the industry?

Programmatic's reputation over the years has evolved from being a very remnant play of inventory to being involved in high level conversations. Any sort of recognition of that is important. It's exciting and it shows that you're a thought leader in the industry and we need to continue to have those as we change and the environment transitions.

Badler is a judge for The Drum Digital Trading Awards USA, the only awards of its kind to reward the US adtech industry by recognizing and awarding the most innovative, creative and effective search campaigns and strategies across both PPC and SEO.

Nominations have been announced. Head over to the awards website for the complete list and see if you have been shortlisted.

Sponsor's for this year's event are: Media IQ, Intermarkets, Unacast, BidSwitch, Digital Remedy and Open X.

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