Unlock the potential of a loyal audience


This is a Q&A with CMO Michael Nevins from Smart Adserver about unlocking the potential of a loyal audience. Read more about the perspectives seen from our partners viewpoint.

Q: How is ad tech today different than it was 2 years ago?

Michael Nevins, CMO: In 2016, the industry was busy reaping the benefits of programmatic. Now, in 2018, the market has reached its breaking point. The rise of programmatic supported what seemed like an unquenchable desire for cheap inventory at scale. With that came an increase in fraud and a decrease in ad inventory quality. The relationship between buyers and sellers has deteriorated.

But the tide is changing! The trend is moving away from Open Auction and towards direct transactions. Emarketer has estimated that programmatic direct will account for 60% of the market share in 2019. With this shift will come an increase in transparency and improved relationships between buyers and sellers. Some large publishers are already seeing the benefits of the new trend; The New York Times’ programmatic direct revenue doubled between Q2 and Q3 of 2017.

This shift away from Open Auction is also evident when we consider what types of display formats are gaining traction in 2018. The push to improve user experience and quality is the reason we’re slowly seeing publishers move away from highly intrusive formats and towards formats that offer practical utility or engaging content. This is critical on mobile where the tolerance for bad ad experiences is especially low. It’s important to engage and reward a user quickly with a carefully considered value exchange.

We recommend publishers take the longer view and create a sustainable monetization strategy based on the secure activation of their first-party data. When publishers leverage their owned data, they can, in effect, nurture their own “private gardens.”

Q: What’s the current climate like for the average mid-range publisher at the moment?

Michael Nevins, CMO: It’s a scary time for many publishers. The duopoly still has control over the lion’s share of the industry. Facebook and Google will account for over 65% of the US digital ad revenues in 2018, and although teaming up with them can offer publishers a certain amount of comfort, monetising with Google and Facebook comes with a price, namely a loss of freedom and a lack of control over one’s future. In short, publishers have little recourse when Facebook or Google decides to change the rules of their monetisation criteria.

So, publishers are asking themselves, how can I claw back a bit of market share in times like these? We think the best way to do this is through the activation of owned data. Tapping into this audience data will be they key to long-term, sustainable success.

That said, I think quality publishers can be 100% optimistic. What they need to remember is that they can thrive in spite of the duopoly! They can optimize their tech stacks while keeping full control over their business and their future.

Q: What ad tech trends should these publishers understand — and follow — in order to ensure both long and short-term business growth?

Michael Nevins, CMO: Publishers should be thinking deeply about creating healthy scarcity, creating best-in-class user experience, respecting user privacy and focusing more on quality rather than quantity. This becomes even more exciting as the market moves increasingly toward programmatic direct. Publishers who begin to fully control and activate their first-party and location data will win by proposing unique, user-friendly, data-rich inventory that’s not available everywhere else.

Publishers should also focus on taking the steps necessary to reassure buyers that their inventory is authentic. Ad fraud is still a big topic, and the ‘big clean-up’ will continue throughout the year. IAB standards like ads.txt and ads.cert have shown us that the industry has realized the need for the entire ecosystem to come together to fight fraud and improve quality. But these two protocols are just the beginning. Fraudsters tend to be one or two steps ahead, so the conversation will move very quickly to include additional ways to verify and certify authorized buyers and sellers of inventory.

At Smart we are 100% ads.txt compliant. We urge all publishers to keep in mind the benefits of participating in these IAB initiatives. Not only will they bring brand and revenue protection through the prevention of domain spoofing, but they will reassure advertisers of inventory quality, allowing them to buy with confidence.

Clean, unique inventory is attractive to buyers. When coupled with audience rich data, it drives even higher CPMs for publishers.

Read also:

Client-side or Server-side Header bidding?


More than 70% of publishers use header bidding to boost eCPMs, increase fill rates, and maximize revenues. While client-side header bidding is an overall improvement over the waterfall, there are a few drawbacks. To address these issues, a new technology emerged: server-side header bidding.

Read more

Annual Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising report has been published – read the most interesting findings here


IAB Europe’s annual Attitudes to Programmatic Advertising Report is a comprehensive analysis of the European programmatic landscape, covering strategies and adoption trends, drivers of and barriers to growth, and forecasts for the future for 31 markets. If you are working on programmatic, we recommend that you read this report. To make it easier, we’ve put together the key findings here.

Read more

We are looking for a Fullstack developer


Your job will be creative and solution-oriented, and you will have a say in a lot of areas of the product-development. You will work in our development team in Kista, together with our Lead Developer. You will work with both front end and back end on our primary product.

Read more

Come say hello to us at Dmexco 2019!


Dmexco will be held in Cologne 11-12th September. This year Relevant will have a stand in Future Park which is dedicated to new innovations. Our stand is located in Hall 9 at C-032a. If you are coming to Dmexco come and visit our stand. You can also schedule a meeting in advance with Olli, Petri or Ronny.

Read more

Google Chrome’s privacy changes – how will they impact the online advertising ecosystem?


Google announced earlier this week that they will bring new privacy controls to Chrome, following the same path as Safari and Firefox have chosen before, but with a slightly different approach. The way Google is approaching this is that the classification of cookies as first or third party needs to be done on the site.

Read more