In a fast-growing and increasingly fragmented digital landscape, having an effective monetization strategy can feel like a daunting task for publishers. The sheer volume of ad-tech and demand partners entering and exiting the market can make it tough to ensure that every opportunity is being fully optimized. The age of COVID-19 has brought further challenges, as brands become more cautious with their advertising spend and margins are squeezed across the industry. The need for a holistic, optimized approach to maximizing the value of publisher inventory has never been more crucial.
Minute Media has been working with a diverse array of publishers on these challenges for many years now through our technology offering, and whilst the exact specifics of an optimized monetization strategy might differ per publisher, there are some golden rules that should be a part of every effective approach.
Utilize Real-Time Data
As the digital industry has matured, a number of tools have become available to marketers to help eliminate wasted spend and inefficient selling. The nature of the shift to programmatic spend and algorithmic decisioning means that the auction landscape can alter dramatically in a short period of time. Small adjustments in pricing or performance can have immediate and profound impacts on revenue, and any publisher that hopes to capitalize on the value of their inventory must have access to real-time data.
Having access to accurate real-time data can enable publishers to act on any opportunities that present themselves, quickly course correct on any mistakes and easily identify any newly emerging patterns. Furthermore, any successful publisher should be testing a number of different ad partners, monetization strategies and ad structure ideas. Without access to real-time data, the feedback process on some of these changes is too long, causing precious days and dollars to be wasted.
Diversify Your Revenue Streams
The two keys to maximizing the value of your inventory are to increase the fill rate and the eCPM. Whilst it can be tempting to focus efforts on one main demand partner, the nature of the industry means that you will be leaving money on the table. Not only does this leave you exposed to risk (changes on 3rd party platforms that you have no control over could have a huge impact on your revenue), but it also reduces the bid density and price competition on your auctions.
Any demand platform that has access to unique demand will be bringing brands to your inventory who will be seeking different audiences and KPIs, helping boost fill rates on previously perennially un-monetized users, and any overlapping demand can help drive auction pressure and eCPMs on existing impressions.
Minute Media, having followed this rule, is fully integrated and operational with a large number of demand platforms: Google, Magnite, Index Exchange, Pubmatic, Sovrn, Rhythm One, Amazon, SpotX, TripleLift and many more.
Carefully Choose, Monitor and Prioritize Demand Partners
However, it is important to not just integrate with any demand partner on the market. The integration work can be time-consuming, but more importantly, the increased latency and prioritization complexity that additional partners will bring can be detrimental to maximizing revenue. So, it is important to only onboard partners that can bring unique demand, either in terms of brands, formats, countries, audiences or sites.
As more partners are introduced to your tech stack, it’s important to pay close attention to how they are prioritized. Whilst water-falling is an effective process for cycling through potential bids in order to find a campaign to serve, it can become inefficient if too many partners are added in. A tipping point is reached when the revenue boost of the incremental demand is outweighed by the increased latency and reporting complexity the ad calls generate.
Particularly close attention should be paid to partners who are generating a lot of timeout errors – as these are often lost impressions, unable to pass back into the waterfall. There is no magic formula – but any partner providing 1% fill and 99% error rates is unlikely to be bringing incremental revenue to your business.
Minute Media conducts a monthly review of our demand stack, carefully vetting partners per site based on performance to ensure the waterfall runs as seamlessly as possible.
Taking Shortcuts On Brand Safety Is Never Worth It
Everyone knows that the digital media world used to be a bit of a ‘Wild West’ in its infancy. But as brands have begun shifting more and more spend over to it, scrutiny on its efficacy has naturally increased, and brands now have a plethora of verification tools to utilize to track the environment their campaigns are being shown within, and the percentage of impressions that are human and viewable.
The punishment for getting brand safety wrong as a publisher has never been higher, with platforms reviewing and pulling spend from inventory on a daily basis. The waiting time to get your inventory re-approved can be considerable, even if all of the right brand safety steps were quickly made. Furthermore, the incremental auction spend that can be accessed by improving performance metrics to benchmark level will far exceed the costs needed to achieve it.
Minute Media is partnered with the Media Trust to monitor and block unwanted and malicious ads, Protected Media to monitor and block bot invalid traffic and is TAG certified.
The ever-changing nature of digital media can make it near-impossible to have a perfect approach to monetization and optimization, but the above steps are integral building blocks to any effective strategy.