3 learnings from the world’s first self-serve advertising conference

Support journalism and reach real audiences

In recent years, everything from government subsidies to newsletter subscriptions have been touted as ways for journalism to survive financially. One of the most interesting points of discussion was the way in which self-serve advertising can support quality journalism.

Touching upon the need for quality, well-funded journalism, Andrew Grillo said: “We want to create the association that buying with The Globe is supporting journalism. It’s in a trusted environment, and it’s a very real audience. We’re a subscription-based online property so it is a real audience, not just scrolling in a feed.” There was agreement that when news publishers control their inventory with self-serve, their ability to leverage that trust and reputation are much stronger than with programmatic.

The theme of audience quality was also covered by keynote speaker and ad fraud researcher Dr. Augustine Fou. Highlighting the myriad of ways in which advertisers are duped into buying fake audiences through programmatic loopholes, he stated succinctly: “real publishers have real audiences.” He continued: “Self-serve is a great way to bring advertisers back to the publishers, because for the last 10 years, I’ve seen too many middlemen take too big a cut of the pie.”


Final thoughts

It’s hard to draw one overarching conclusion from an event with many varying and insightful perspectives. But if there was one area on which consensus could clearly be found, it was the need for industry standardization. Self-serve is still in its infancy, and each publisher approaches it differently. This is an exciting phase, but ultimately a resource-heavy process – one which will itself benefit from efficiency.

When publishers start to find those best practices, and make advertisers more comfortable with their platforms, it will be a lot easier for others to get started. Everything from audience segmentation to creative formats are features that can be streamlined and standardized. The fewer looming question marks and the more successful use cases are out there, the easier it will be to get other publishers, brands and agencies onboard.

The flipside is that those early first-movers who are already integrating self-serve into their revenue model have the opportunity to set the standards that they want to see. Whether that means an always-on, fully automated marketplace, or a consultative, managed-service process, it is up to them to find the balance that best suits their business, their audience, and their customers. Ultimately, the beneficiaries will be publishers and the advertisers who work with them.

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