I would encourage publishers to get involved in RTB, at least to gain a fuller understanding of what it is – and more importantly what it is not.  Moreover, I encourage you to converse with all stakeholders in the RTB ecosystem (SSPs, DSPs, agency trading desks, brands, peer publishers’ private market place teams).  Listening to only one interest group (such as the SSPs) will project an alluring future, but you will be getting a biased perspective, which may be incompatible with your longer-term goals.

Exploring RTB (in a way that is safe and grounded in marketplace reality) is likely to result in a strong case for investing in direct sales and technology that supports direct sales.  After dipping your toes into RTB, it becomes possible to assess its short/long term implications on your core business, and how this ultimately impacts strategy and positioning.

RTB is rightfully accredited for the introduction and early adoption of mega trends but the application is in no way limited to RTB or exchange-based trading.  Appreciating this disconnect is valuable when developing direct advertising sales and premium advertiser services.

Audience data has the power to transform digital publishing from selling commoditized space to selling audience intelligence.  Audience intelligence is what helps both you as the publisher and your clients to understand precisely how different audiences engage with advertising.

For example, optimizing for a higher click-through rates (without visibility of who is clicking), will lead to suboptimal performance.  Yes, the campaign KPI will look good, but I find that few advertisers are excited about the clicks alone …

To achieve true audience intelligence, we need to establish in-depth demographic (as well as interest based) profiles of our audience at a visitor level.  With this level of granular understanding, providing detailed real-time insight of what is/isn’t working will become the norm.

Publishers are finally in a unique position, which enables them and only them to create the required intimate relationship with their readers.  This subsequently allows them to collect and refine vast amounts of bite-sized data and transform it into genuine audience intelligence.  This is value that is clearly of a premium nature, and will help re-invent direct sales.

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