The publishing world is constantly changing as publishers face several challenges in a world of automated media buying.
Ahead of Programmatic Punch APAC this October, The Drum caught up with Unruly’s chief revenue officer, APAC, Phil Townend and managing director, Asia, Vijay Kunduri on the next steps in publisher innovation.
What are the biggest challenges facing publishers at the moment?
Phil Townend: Yield monetization, quality and transparency. The challenge is that social platforms want premium journalism and content to premiumise their UGC worlds but unfortunately, due to unregulated mechanics of capitalism, the growth required to satisfy shareholders means the duopoly need to take 80% in the digital growth dollar. Premium publishers cannot collectively survive on the 20% leftover, so a reset is definitely needed, as such high concentrations mean the inevitable decline in quality journalism. Not only that, outside of YouTube, social/ search is very lower funnel so advertisers themselves will get stuck in a cycle of short-termism at the cost of building a healthy long term brand.
How worried are you as a publisher about browsers removing their support of third party cookies?
PT: It’s a worry for the entire ecosystem outside of the walled gardens as cookies, of course, are the most prevalent form of targeting. It’s no co-incidence Oracle bought Grapeshot soon after Google Chrome announced it would be changing the way users can be tracked and targeted using cookies. Google will block cookies used to track users across sites, rather than those used to keep us signed in.
Vijay Kunduri: From publisher’s viewpoint this move could be damaging or determinable to their business in the short term while they build an alternate approach to harness their audience via profiling and utilizing them for effective targeting. The impact will also be felt as more and more clients are seeking stricter KPI’s like In Demo % or frequency capping to get a single view of a user.
Can context really be a proxy for audience?
PT: Many agencies and research companies have recently been working on studies showcasing the power of context, with Nielsen demonstrating up to 50% lift in engagement. Because of the rise in the popularity of audience targeting, combined with scarcity/cost of contextual channels, the industry has eschewed good old contextual targeting in favour of audience buying.
VK: We’ve been working with Grapeshot to build custom context taxonomies to enable targeting beyond contextual keyword approach. Placing emotive advertising in emotionally congruent - i.e. complimentary – environments has been shown to deliver uplifts in completion rate. Our research shows that ads have an 18% higher dwell time and a 24% higher click-through rate when placed on an emotionally congruent site.
PT: Context might not be an accurate replacement of audience but with Nielsen DAR OTP benchmarks of around 30-40% for many key audiences such as females - there is wastage in just about any media buy even if using audience targeting.
There has been a lot of debate about the value of first price versus second priced auctions recently, have you seen any material impact to yield or fill as a result of the changes carried out by SSPs?
VK: As an industry, we’re still grappling with basic differences of the first price versus second-price auction. The strategy of bidding in a first-price auction with a second-price strategy can be expensive. The move to first-price model may show a spike in short term, but as more and more platforms move towards integrating machine learning technologies the scenario will change.
What’s a good example of collaboration that you know of?
VK: Nearly 80% of the internet’s top 1000 sites that sell programmatic ads in 2019 support display header bidding. However, its deployment in the video space has been held back due to out-stream video complexities, such as player type. Unruly’s collaboration with The Ozone Project avoids the historic complexity of delivering out-stream video through header bidding and provides an effective, transparent and compliant solution for publishers. The partnership allows demand partners of UnrulyX to buy out-stream placements via header bidding supported by The Ozone Project’s server-side wrapper.
For video specifically, how much of an opportunity is that for publishers?
PT: For publishers, the opportunity is a one video solution that supports video player header bidding allowing agencies/ clients to be able to programme sequences across different types of formats (In-stream vs Out-stream, understanding and AB testing impact 1, 2, 3, 4 and best use of asset and format to drive users down P2P)
Where is the untapped opportunity in video? What could publishers be doing more of?
PT: Untapped opportunities in video is a neuroscience approach to the understanding role of the media environment. Same video different environment drives very different levels of engagement and being able to harness contextual and semantic targeting to be able to prove that context and emotional congruence drives greater ROI is key for publishers to be able to take a fair slice of the pie that their investment in editorial and content deserves.
What is next for video?
PT: What trends should the industry have its eye on? Machine learning/AI/ computer vision powered DSP of the future which automatically ingests video assets and plans campaign lay down across platforms (social and premium) based on relatively few inputs.
Traders have to input market, KPI, budget and audience and based on the analysis of the videos, the system will create a custom media schedule based on the videos themselves in terms of micro-segments, dynamic creative sequencing etc.
VK: Machine learning, AI integrated platforms along with the adoption of blockchain-based technologies where ML, AI, IoT all converge. This convergence promises to address issues that have plagued videos - viewability, the authenticity of content, IPR, trust & transparency.
Townend will speak on the Publisher Collaboration and Innovation panel where panellists will dig into the new types of innovations and collaboration that solve the issues publishers have been facing in putting their prized inventory onto programmatic.