Recent research from Google put some solid figures behind a notion that has been common knowledge in our industry for some time – consumers are using a mix of phones, tablets, computer and TVs to consume digital content.

However, a point to consider beyond this isn’t just the number of devices that are commonly used to digest content, but the sheer amount of content consumed in total. 

Ofcom’s Media Use and Attitudes report released this year certainly backs this, with almost four in five of us (79%) now consuming online content anywhere, on any device. This is in addition to stats from eMarketer which found that US consumers now spend almost four times longer consuming web content every day, as opposed to the time they spend consuming print media. 

Behind this growth in media consumption is a growth in the number of quality content sites emerging, reaching approximately 2m last year.

Where an increase in the number of decent content sites has arisen, so has the desire for marketers to capitalise on this as a means of building their brand online. As a result, publishers have made huge strides to best capture this momentum to their advantage – be it through human or automated solutions to make advertising campaigns all the more successful.

Three elements that publishers have to sell to advertisers and marketers include environment, audience and product.  


For marketing to generate its full effect, publishers need to cooperate with advertisers to ensure that campaigns are housed in the right environment.

In this way, publishers and their representatives should aggregate inventory according to its context. There are hundreds of niche sites that individually and on their own cannot command sufficient an audience to enable them to tap into advertising budgets. 

  • By aggregating a larger volume of thematic inventory, and by tight control over this ad inventory, publishers within any one theme can command greater budgets and pricing power with the agencies they work with. 
  • Further to this, premium brand revenues can be then additionally optimised through a creative approach where bespoke builds and solutions are in place. These non-automated revenues are difficult to replicate in the algorithmic / RTB / exchange environment. They require a creative, holistic approach to synchronising the brand marketers objective with publishers properties, unique facets and capabilities. 

This is also why grouping publisher sites and inventory by thematic verticals is a win-win both for advertisers – who get scale, reach and management assistance – and publishers – who gain pricing power and access to more budgets which need a certain scale to make the economics of brand advertising worth it.   


It makes sense that media owners should tap into all sources of demand for their advertising inventory, something that automated technologies have helped to do.

These platforms are enabling advertisers to touch a more targeted segment of a publishers’ audience than could otherwise be achievable through the manual approach. However, since supply outstrips demand at the macro level, some management of that demand is very important to ensure that publishers do not cannibalise the value of their inventory. 

  • Publishers should receive bids from and optimise the yield from all sources of advertiser demand – including algorithmic and exchange traded versus premium and the current ‘network’ model. 
  • That said, they should also seek to ensure that bids are right, and premium brands are not underpaying the inventory that could be obtaining a higher ROI. Knowing what brands are looking to spend premium rates for premium positioning enables the publisher and/or its advertising representative to better manage the bid rates of their inventory by automated buying platforms. 
  • While automated technologies are useful they also need to be approached with care. Relying on automation could end up with an ad with the wrong message appearing if it is not proactively managed in advance. 

A premium sales team should be working very closely with an automated trading team to engender information and value for the publisher.

The premium sales team should feedback ‘qualitative’ assessments on the value of inventory to ensure that their inventory is not undersold through automated trading; while the automated trading team can extract and generate insights about the demand from advertisers for different types of inventory.  


Where advertisers are looking to effectively disseminate their message as much as possible, a number of companies are seeking, and successfully using, unique ad formats and products to develop a niche speciality that helps to run better campaigns.

By that we mean that a number of brokers, or intermediaries, are selling a few special ad formats. However, in order to maximise the yield of advertising: 

  • Publishers should be offering whatever ad or content products, ad formats or creative solutions are available to meet advertisers requirements. In this respect, so long as these different companies provide these different formats, publishers will need to deal with a number of players. 
  • Working with multiple brokers of ‘creative ad formats’ can lead to them competing against each other for potentially the same budget. It could be that a home-page takeover can achieve the same effect as some other unique ad format, and therefore, if a publisher has multiple parties pitching their wares, they are more likely to have them competing against themselves to then eats into publisher revenues. 
  • This is a key reason why publishers should be looking to an intermediary to maximise pricing and they don’t have two different parties competing against each other to their detriment. 

The structure of the display advertising industry and its players is constantly evolving and there’s a danger to think that the latest innovation is going to be the be all and end all – be it real-time bidding or the latest unique ad format.

Publishers need to present their inventory to advertisers in a coherent and strategic fashion to protect the value of their inventory.

As long as there are mechanics in place – such as agreement incentives – to ensure that their representatives are maximising their opportunity, then publishers can ensure that their media sales strategy matches what makes economic and strategic sense to position their brand best, and in turn maximise revenues with advertisers.