The world of programmatic advertising is in constant flux. This challenges publishers to keep up with developments and maintain in-house expertise. One reason is the difficulty in finding skilled experts. Often, publishers opt for a solution in which programmatic advertising sales are either fully outsourced to a partner or supported by an external partner for development. In addition to expertise, various technologies have entered the market in recent years, with the aim of simplifying publishers’ daily tasks related to advertising sales and revenue optimisation.
It's clear that there is a definite need for tools that reduce the need for manual work (and errors), streamline processes, and promote opportunities for more independent work. However, it can often be challenging to find the tools or partners that are a perfect fit for your needs. In this text, we delve into various criteria that may help you in the selection process.
Features - what are you looking for?
Numerous market solutions facilitate the work of ad ops and advertising sales in programmatic advertising by reducing manual work and simplifying technical implementations. It's advisable to start by considering the primary challenges you're seeking solutions for.
Advertising sales are currently fragmented, and revenues often come from many different sources (direct sales, programmatic, deals). Merely tracking these revenue streams can be challenging and time-consuming manually by logging into numerous different systems. Larger publishers often tackle this challenge by developing their own tools specifically for monitoring advertising revenues. While there's nothing inherently wrong with that, maintaining such tools and addressing potential issues can surprisingly consume a lot of technical resources. Many publishers have opted to track sales and other key metrics using solutions designed for this purpose. There are quite a few options available in the market. But how do you choose the one that's right for your needs?
While tracking revenues is a crucial part of developing programmatic advertising sales (how can you develop if you don't know the real-time current situation?), the needs of a savvy publisher rarely stop at this level. Another perspective might involve exploring ways to increase revenues, perhaps through a Header bidding implementation, or testing a server-side solution for a mobile application.
Independent work with such implementations requires a deeper technical understanding and coding expertise. With the help of readily available wrappers on the market and the tools designed for their management, it's usually possible to implement various Header bidding solutions and easily add or remove participating SSP partners without in-depth coding skills. Another advantage of such implementations is that they typically don't require technical maintenance on the publisher's end. Instead, the service provider ensures that the system stays up-to-date, considering necessary updates and industry requirements. These tools enable independent adoption of a Header Bidding solution (including on the server-side and testing various settings) and independent monitoring, even with limited resources and expertise. In addition to these examples, the technologies available in the market may also offer numerous other features, although their emphasis may vary depending on the technology.
Of course, a publisher can use separate service providers or solutions for these and possibly other needs, but it might be more optimal and cost-effective if the same platform or team support can offer solutions for multiple needs. You can start by establishing the "basics" and then progressively delve into specific details step by step. However, it's crucial to recognise and understand the potential capacity of a partner, and their ability to solve various challenges and deliver value.
Regarding features, questions worth seeking answers to during the evaluation phase might include:
- For which needs does the solution offer tools?
- Can features be tailored to individual requirements?
- How frequently is it updated, taking into account industry trends and standards?
- Are there integration opportunities with existing systems and tools?
- Is it compatible with various formats and devices?
- How would you evaluate the analytical capabilities and user-friendliness?
The expertise of the team
The expertise of the team plays a central role. Even if you're not seeking a fully managed service for the development of programmatic advertising, the team's knowledge remains crucial. Tools alone often don't lead to the desired results. The main purpose of these tools is to streamline daily operations and allocate time away from manual tasks towards more profitable activities. Therefore, effectively leveraging these tools is key to maximising their value, and this is where the service provider's expertise comes into play.
But how can you then evaluate the team's competence? Try to assess the team's expertise in programmatic advertising sales and their understanding of market trends and industry dynamics. Find out how many years they have been in the industry and any accomplishments they might have. Browse through customer stories and ask for recommendations from their current clients. You can also pay attention to whether the team has received any special recognition or if they have shared their expertise for the benefit of the entire industry, for example, by working through industry organisations like IAB or Prebid.org.
In a challenging market environment, it's easy to gravitate towards seeking maximum "gains" at minimal costs. In such instances, tools that are offered for free might seem like a tempting option. However, it's vital to remember that if a product is free, you might very well be the product. Few companies can afford to develop technology and provide it to their users at no cost. It might be that the platform isn't the company's main offering, but its income derives from other avenues. The technology provider might not be impartial and might prioritise its own channels in revenue optimisation, such as its SSP, thereby generating revenues that offset the platform's maintenance costs.
There may also be differences in potential pricing models. A common approach could be the so-called revenue share, where the user pays the service provider a fixed percentage of the advertising revenues they receive. Another model could be a fixed usage fee, which often may be linked to volume, as service provider expenses (such as server costs) often also depend on volumes.
Knowing the exact costs, you can attempt to estimate how much your advertising revenues might increase, or how much time and resources you might save, assessing the overall impact on your business. In reality, very precise estimates can be difficult to obtain since there are so many variables in advertising revenue development. Unsubstantiated, overly ambitious (perhaps unfounded) promises should automatically raise reliability concerns.
It's essential to thoroughly explore the available pricing models and carefully assess their transparency and fairness. Also, ensure you are aware of any hidden costs or additional charges. Ultimately, aim to assess how much value the platform and the team's expertise bring to you relative to the costs.
Customer support is also a crucial aspect when choosing a potential partner for programmatic advertising revenue development. Assess the support team's accessibility and responsiveness to questions and issues before making your selection. Inquire about available communication channels, such as email, phone, or chat. Assess the expertise and professionalism of the support team: how effectively can they solve problems and offer you tailored solutions? Evaluate the availability and usefulness of training materials and any documentation. Is it easy to find the information and answers to your questions?
Also, pay attention to what the potential partner promises in terms of customer care. Do you have a designated contact when you require assistance and support? How does the company pledge to maintain the client relationship - are development meetings scheduled in advance or arranged as needed? How transparent is the company in explaining the onboarding process and keeping a potential client informed about the next steps?
Most likely, a realistic view of the customer support's expertise and quality of service can be obtained by asking for opinions from existing clients or by delving into possible customer satisfaction surveys or other feedback.
Company Values and Focus
When evaluating a potential partner, it's essential to delve deep into their values and strategic priorities. Consider how aligned the company's mission and vision are with your own objectives and goals. The company's products and services should also concretely reflect these values and aims. Specialisations often provide hints about what they prioritise most. For instance, if a company specialises in programmatic advertising, its expertise and knowledge in that area are likely more profound than others. On the other hand, if it's a side venture, it might not receive the same level of attention and passion as their core business.
An increasing number of firms are emphasising the importance of sustainable development and ethical values. It's vital to scrutinise how these values manifest in practical operations, not just within marketing collateral. How does the firm address its environmental duties? How do their ethical standards shape their day-to-day operations, services, and products? Values shouldn't be empty words; they should guide all of the company's actions and decision-making.
When choosing tools, as well as potential additional resources and support for the development of programmatic advertising sales, you might be surprised by the number of considerations that come your way. We believe that this list will provide you with a broader perspective on the issue and help you make better choices in selecting your partner. In summary, we could say that it's beneficial to primarily seek answers to these questions:
- What are your needs, and what can different platforms and partners offer you
- Does the partner have the specific expertise you are looking for?
- Which pricing model best serves your needs?
- Is the partner's team accessible when needed?
- Are the partner's values and priorities aligned with your needs?
When considering your options, we also recommend exploring Relevant Yield, which is our platform for better management and development of programmatic advertising sales. With Relevant Yield, publishers and their sales partners can increase advertising revenue, enhance efficiency, retain better control, be more independent, and save on costs. Using Relevant Yield, you can monitor all essential key performance indicators for digital advertising sales in one view and implement, manage, test, and analyse the performance of Header Bidding implementations. Relevant Yield supports all Prebid modules and ad formats, including mobile apps and server-side.
One of our strengths is independence. We genuinely want to help publishers comprehensively develop their programmatic revenue potential. We don't favour any particular sources of demand. We believe that any revenue growth a publisher might experience using our tools is entirely due to their own efforts. That's why we charge based on usage, rather than taking a share of the revenue growth. Transparency is paramount to us, and there are no hidden features or benefits behind our technologies.
We aim to help publishers become more independent, allowing them to take control over all their digital advertising revenue streams and facilitate a more autonomous workflow, reducing the need for technical resources.
We use our tools ourselves and have excellent opportunities to test various new approaches and features for programmatic sales and share these insights with our clients. We work closely with our clients, and it's essential for us to be available and provide precise support when needed. We've been focused on helping publishers and addressing their challenges for over a decade, so our expertise and understanding of different perspectives and environments are exceptionally broad. We have unique knowledge and experience in the industry, with a particular focus on Prebid Mobile implementations.
Relevant Yield is a trusted and comprehensive platform used by numerous publishers and their sales partners in over 15 different countries. If you wish, you can read more about Relevant Yield here or book a free consultation on how you could benefit from using Relevant Yield yourself.
Behind Relevant Yield is a company called Relevant Digital, which is dedicated to helping publishers enhance the returns of their digital services. Core values for us include expertise, curiosity, and trustworthiness. In our operations, we commit to transparency and ethical practices, and we aim to broadly consider environmental impacts as well. Alongside Relevant Yield, we offer publishers consulting and services related to programmatic advertising.