How Conde Nast treats programmatic advertising as a cross-selling opportunity

The delegates at the Digital Innovators' Summit in Berlin dragged themselves back to their seats for the 'Programmatic Ad Transactions' session Tuesday afternoon. This was a presentation they knew they had to hear, but they expected it to be painful.

As it turned out, Rick Welch, from the CatalystDesk at Conde Nast, while not quite managing to make the arcane world of ad tech sound simple, at least made it sound do-able. Welch is part of the US publisher's new programmatic team, six people tasked with introducing the latest advertising innovation to the 100-year old media company's staff and clients.

He described the ad tech space as "complicated, fast changing and crowded" with programmatic causing trepidation on both the buy and sell sides. He said advertisers and agencies are concerned that the complexity will end up costing them more; publishers fear it will devalue their brands.

Conde Nast has spent the last couple of years reinvesting print profits into expanding digital operations, developing its social presence, a sophisticated video offering, a suite of tablet editions, marketing services and now, programmatic capabilities.

Welch said his first job was to make friends throughout the publishing operation and explain programmatic: "The last thing we want is for sales reps to fight programmatic.You need your existing sales force to include it in their toolkit."

He said his work doesn't have to be about basic banner ads, using the programmatic delivery of a fashion shoot video incorporating a one minute pre-roll to make the point. "It's a synonym for automation, a better booking mechanism, not a back door to lower rates. It frees up time for our buyers and sellers to be more creative."

Welch was also very clear that he didn't see programmatic replacing reps. "There's no way we are eliminating our sales teams," he said. He explained that at the moment Conde Nast is actually comping sales people on programmatic ads sold to their accounts.

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