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Key Account Manager Benelux | Programmatic, Technology

Programmatic: Why the death of the salesman is far from reality

Improve Digital, Staff Blog, Blog, Tech company, Programmatic

Programmatic advertising has become the new main standard of how online display advertising is traded between publisher and buyer. In line, many publishers have invested in building a dedicated programmatic team. Different roles have been defined with often a strong focus on tech and yield management.

Contact with buyer and advertiser remains as important as ever

But does this imply that programmatic has led to the death of the traditional salesman? The simple answer is no. Contact with buyer and advertiser remains as important as ever. A dedicated programmatic sales role can be a true competitive advantage and I will explain why based on experiences and lessons learned at Improve Digital across different markets.


1. Know your buyers and advertisers

There are three different types of clients to manage when it comes to programmatic buying. Firstly, the agency trading desk – a highly tech-skilled team who is responsible for all programmatic buying activities for a large group of advertisers within the media agency. And then there’s the independent trading desks who solely focus on digital media buying for advertisers that do not belong to a media agency. Last but not least, and rapidly growing, is the client trading desk where the advertiser is in control of its own programmatic media buying.

As in traditional media sales, it’s important to get know the decision makers as well as the operational staff inside the trading desks. The head of media buying often investigates what the added value of a publisher domain could be for their clients, and the campaign manager is often the one who is responsible for the actual trading and optimization of all campaign budgets.

By presenting the Publisher’s portfolio (domains) to buyers, a buyer is able to better understand what type of audiences can be found within the offered network. And then this can lead to increased sales for the publisher.


2. Ensure domains are whitelisted

The majority of buyers are working on a so called “whitelist approach”. This is a pre-approved list of websites used by buyers during campaign setup. The main reason that buyers will work with whitelists is because of brand safety.

Other reasons of domains that aren’t whitelisted can be caused by a sudden decrease in performance (CTR/Viewability/Time-on-site) or a hidden domain. A demand manager would be able to spot when for example a steep drop in spend is noticed. A buyer won’t necessarily notify the publisher which could potentially lead to a revenue loss for a publisher. If blacklisted, buyer and publisher need to discuss what can be done to again whitelist the domain.


3. Ask for benchmark results to optimize revenues

Buyers will often use a broad set of KPI’s for campaign optimization. A demand manager can work with feedback from the buyer to help define how your portfolio benchmarks against competition and to understand why certain spend is above or below average. The more feedback a buyer is able to provide on certain performance indicators, the better a publisher is able to investigate and find alternative solutions to further grow revenues.

The most common KPI’s are: CTR/CPC/CPA (performance campaigns) and viewability/time-on-site/ Engagement/CPM (branding campaigns). If for example your viewability rate is below benchmark, they can investigate how certain ad slots can be repositioned on the website to deliver better results. Or for example offer buyers a deal id with only the best viewable placements.


4. Stay top of mind and introduce new product offers

With many publishers trying to promote their portfolio among the top buyers, it is important to build relationships with a long term approach where quality in product and service remains key. For example to quickly assist buyers providing necessary buying information (bid-url, bid-size, setup of deal id’s) or helping to trouble shoot on campaign performance. In addition buyers like to test innovative product offers, which could mean a new ad format for a selected group of advertisers or buyers. Or for instance, a specific deal on viewability.

Programmatic advertising may result in a much more efficient and effective buying process where 80% of selling and buying activities are handled in a programmatic manner, but the role of sales has not been changed. It is still key in promoting your network and understanding buyer needs.

As key account manager at Improve Digital, Mark supports Benelux content providers in developing and improving their inventory monetisation strategies. Before joining Improve Digital, Mark served as both online product manager and automation manager at publisher De Persgroep (formally known as Wegener), where he developed the skills in publishing and ad tech that he applies to his role today. In addition to strategically supporting content providers, Mark regularly shares his knowledge by speaking at industry events such as Digital First Belgium or contributing articles to the IAB and other industry publications.