The impending death of the cookie provides challenges and opportunities for all of us. Luckily, a renewed focus on direct sales could allow publishers to make the best of this situation (because reconsidering their approach to sales will allow them to truly leverage the unique first-party data that they currently possess).
There have been numerous benefits of programmatic for publishers: admin and manual work has reduced, algorithms have enabled highly targeted campaign delivery and, (for the right price) there is a constant flow of inventory fulfillment.
There have been negatives: CPM yield's taken a hit, quality content isn't as valued as it should be, and creativity tailored to specific audiences (that publishers intimately understand) has taken a back seat.
These changes have forced the very nature of sales to evolve, often with teams scaled back and remaining employees pivoting. The most valuable asset to a publisher- its audience, has in some cases failed to achieve its true value. Utilising first-party data effectively with a creative, intelligent sales process can change this.
Publishers need to start offering advanced contextual targeting in conjunction with audience solutions. The consultative approach that a direct sales relationship offers, will (now that cookies are all but dead) be more valued by media buyers as they come to navigate a cookie-less world. Fully integrated campaigns with content creation and innovative ideas powered by first-party data are the compelling proposition of the future.
For the majority of publishers, this will involve new investment. Clean room technology can get expensive as data sets scale, and hiring new (or re-training existing) sales staff will add to the eventual bottom line. These elements need to be balanced against the significant uplift in CPMs that changes bring. In a recent Digiday article, Jonathon Shaevitz (SVP of Strategy, Data and Partnerships at DTMG) explained that layering first-party data had resulted in a 50 to 100% increase in CPMs.
Direct sales teams will also have the opportunity to become creative with their packaged solutions. Rich, exciting, and impactful advertising opportunities that have been neglected over data and targeting in the programmatic world, will have more importance. Platform specialists such as Celtra and Bannerflow can help power these solutions, and a strong creative partner can provide the heavy lifting on campaigns to elevate the end product.
At Deviceful we have already seen publisher partners shift their focus to campaigns that provide a complete, engaging solution for media buyers. It's a trend only set to grow in 2022.
If you'd like to talk to us about leveraging this for yourself, our team of experts are always available for a chat!