Nov 18 2013
Basis Team

Publishers Participating in Exchanges Should Look Closely… There Might Be Hidden Treasure


The effect of real-time bidding (RTB) on publishers has been well documented.  Such insights have often focused on the challenges RTB poses for publishers, including how it negatively impacts their direct advertising revenue and relationships. It’s a “glass half empty” view and it lends to the trepidation in which many publishers enter and participate in this space.

Whichever point of view you take, what can’t be denied is that RTB is here to stay and its impressive growth is expected to continue at elevated speeds. At this rate, the demand and supply sides of RTB need to continue to support one another and take advantage of the many benefits supported by programmatic buying.

One of the less obvious and less publicized benefits for the supply side is that RTB creates opportunity for publishers to access an entirely new crop of advertisers. There are tens of thousands of RTB buyers, most of which may have never purchased inventory through direct sales channels. RTB also connects buyers with inventory they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. RTB helps bridge that gap.

As is usually the case, publishers offer all “unsold” inventory to RTB buyers. Reserved inventory will always be accounted for and prioritized accordingly. However, as technology and offerings change, there may be more gray areas involved and inventory will go to the highest CPM, as that will dictate the “real” value of inventory. And the high CPM could actually come from RTB.

Now, as we put more focus on analyzing RTB data, we believe such insights will enable publishers to identify and create new partnerships and revenue opportunities, otherwise unavailable. If an advertiser is finding success across a particular site on the programmatic side of the business, it’s likely that the publisher can expand on that partnership by pursuing direct opportunities on top of the RTB budgets they get from that advertiser.

I encourage all publishers to take an active role in looking at the revenue coming through their RTB relationships. There’s more than just that monthly check they receive from exchange partners. They may find advertising opportunities that wouldn’t have been visible if those brands never bought on the site through RTB. Furthermore, machines can’t notice these nuances, which explains why people remain valuable in this process.

There is likely hidden treasure in RTB, and those that look, just might find something shiny.