Programmatic monetization has been improving rapidly and has become quite sophisticated nowadays. However, direct advertising partnerships are yet to become obsolete. Such deals bring plenty of benefits to both publishers and advertisers, despite the fact that it’s usually quite time consuming to secure, manage and deliver on them. If you’ve never run direct campaigns before or you’re just starting out you may need a little help. Here are our top 5 tips for being successful in doing so:
We’ve talked plenty about viewability in the past. It’s a key element when it comes to making any improvements in monetization. You won’t be able to secure any high-value deals without creating high-value placements, the first step towards that being positioning ad slots with the user experience in mind.
You may not be able to sell out all your inventory, so make sure to have at least a few ads in areas that fall in view naturally for the largest amount of your audience. Those will be most lucrative to advertisers. That said, don’t try to overuse these parts of your pages. It may have a countereffect and by destroying the quality your chances of securing long-term business go out the door as well.
You should also consider which ad sizes you’d be using. Some will fit better than others with your design, but most importantly – make sure to diversify. That will give you the highest chance to find a fitting campaign within the demand pool.
What about CTR?
That’s also an important metric that advertisers pay attention to, but you should look at that as a secondary aspect. The first issue with CTR is that you can only measure it historically. And that’s to a huge extent dependent on the actual creatives displayed in the particular slot. Users click on ads relevant to them at a higher rate, which is not always the case with OpenRTB, so it is quite tricky to try and optimize for clicks. The second part of the problem is that a lot of the deals available are actually ‘awareness campaigns’. This refers to advertisers simply looking for exposure, rather than driving conversions directly from the purchased inventory, which makes CTR way less relevant.
2. Be Flexible
If you’ve ever had to deal with advertisers or agencies directly, you probably know there’s usually a lot of last minute requests and changes. That can be a real nuisance. However, with the state of the industry right now you need to adapt and facilitate this in your model if you hope to have sustainable partnerships.
Make sure to enable making adjustments easily when creating your setups from the starting point. This will save you a lot of headaches later on, when you’re requested to go through all of the placements on short notice. In practical terms, this means having well-organized creatives, line items, and ad units, keeping each component separate, appropriately named and functioning individually. This is indeed a lot to go through. Yet, it will help you meet deadlines and avoid errors, which will prove to be essential to your prosperity.
Additionally, try to be flexible with the ad sizes you’re using where possible. For example, you may have a 728×90 sitting on the top of your page. It could easily be turned into a 970×250 if there’s a demand for it. Analyze your layout, configure any such sizes that could be facilitated with little effort. Then simply include these in your rate card. Regardless of whether or not you’re using them on a regular basis. It’s another way to increase the range of campaigns and since it comes at no cost to you it’s really a no-brainer.
In summary – just make yourself easy to work with. Big brands and agencies often have to manage large budgets and multiple channels at the same time. Therefore by being as cooperative as possible, you can reduce the odds of them going to your competition.
3. Don’t focus just on CPM
Everyone wants to get paid well for each impression they sell. However, measuring the value of a deal only by its price point can be misleading. The most important thing to consider when it comes to direct advertising is that such campaigns are guaranteed. Most publishers consider this an advantage to advertisers only, while actually it can be used to your benefit as well. Programmatic monetization can be quite unstable, which can lead to having great CPMs on the high end. But with the amount of inventory lost and its value diluted after defaulting, the end result is less profits on the whole.
So how can you turn that around via direct partnerships? Well, these deals are usually priced higher than RTB purchases due to the transparency and security they come with. But it may not always be so, depending on the requirements of the campaign and the clients themselves. If you’re struggling to get the prices you were hoping for, don’t be discouraged just yet – that will come later. Break down your profits and figure out how much you’re earning from each segment overall. You may find a lower CPM campaign to be better revenue-wise than your regular monetization method because of its consistency across the board. Master your data and you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.
4. Bundle up
Smaller publishers often have trouble finding direct deals because they can’t meet the minimum inventory requirements. If you’re in this category, there might be a solution for you. Try to partner up with other publishers in your vertical, that have a similar audience to yours. You can put your inventory together and sell that as a bundle to advertisers. It may even turn out to be more valuable to them since they are reaching a larger range of users at no extra cost.
This method is usually facilitated by ad networks or mediators. Yet, there are plenty of ways for you to make connections and do it on your own. You can try exploring the Reddit AdOps page. It has grown in popularity with smaller sized publishers recently and has helped many find answers, as well as collaborators.
5. Roadblock campaigns
These are campaigns that occupy all placements on your site for a certain period of time. But one type we’d like to talk about in particular is homepage takeovers (HPTOs). Essentially what that means is that only a select advertiser’s creatives will be displayed on your homepage for a particular time period. These can be a huge benefit both to your and your client but may be a bit more difficult to find.
To advertisers, these campaigns bring a lot of value as they are virtually impossible to miss and instantly grab the attention of the user. On the other hand, if your design and content quality are on point, you’re unlikely to lose any visitors to ads on your homepage anyway. In the same time, your homepage usually gets a lot of traffic – usually between 5% and 10% of the total, which may not seem like much but compared to any other individual page, it’s quite a lot. Thus, you can charge a solid premium for HTPOs at little to no risk on your side.