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DC Thomson on why the time’s right to open its inventory directly to agencies and advertisers

DC Thomson is the latest publisher to offer automated guaranteed inventory to agencies and advertisers, a move it claims takes it closer to a “utopia” of quality and quantity as opposed to relying on high volume, low yield ad inventory.

The publisher of The Beano has brought on board Ad Eye to facilitate the guarantee that will effectively streamline the RFP method for automated trading.

Instead of having to manually plan and fulfill a sale via emails, phone calls, etc., the process for both buyer and seller is automated through the Ad Eye’s platform'. This means publishers get better control over what is sold plus at the same time secure up front commitments to both price and an amount of inventory at a fixed rate.

Despite its promise, automated guaranteed has not been a unanimous hit with publishers, with many concerned for its potential to hurt their yields. While more efficient, the workflow process squeezes the margins publishers could make from ad placements by allowing large amounts of media to be bought at cheaper rates on a forward basis.

“It’s too early for us to say whether this is the future,” conceded Mike Dee, digital sales manager at DC Thomson. Publishers like City AM have already seen uplifts of seven times in revenue off the back of using automated guaranteed, with the newspaper claiming the process has helped it take back control of its inventory and data.

“The digital market evolves so rapidly - but programmatic guarantee is definitely what happens next,” continued Dee. “Our focus on driving digital growth means we need to understand and scrutinise what is happening with our inventory; ad yield has never been more important. The Ad Eye platform offers us complete visibility and control over the algorithmic side of our sales force, allowing us to see who is buying our ads and how much they’re paying for them. In CPM terms, we’re pushing towards a utopia of quality and quantity as opposed to relying on high volume, low yield ad inventory.”

Offering automated guaranteed could also benefit those DC Thomson advertisers who have a certain portion of buys that are recurring and so are relatively standardised.

“Yes, this is true,” explained Ad Eye’s managing director Kate Morgan, who added it has a ‘”re-buy’ feature that allows advertisers to re-buy their campaigns at the click of a button”.

It is still relatively early days for the process and at the moment it sits somewhere between agency trading desks and agencies. Agency trading desks can do more complex buys through the system and also have more insight into what is available from publishers in terms of inventory and data.

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