On November 6, the morning after Summit, we kicked off our first-ever AppNexus Publisher Forum. The Forum drew a crowd of over 100 global publishers into our NYC offices to learn more about the sell-side technologies and business practices AppNexus has developed and implemented throughout 2015.
After a meet-and-greet breakfast of pancakes, and opening remarks from Ryan Christensen, SVP and GM of the Publisher Technology Group (PTG), the audience got off to a running start with an in-depth panel discussion on a subject near and dear to many digital publishers these days: header bidding. Moderated by Ben Kneen, Senior Manager of Monetization for PTG, the panel consisted of three guest panelists hailing from different subsets of digital publishing: Stephanie Layser, VP of Ad Ops and Programmatic at A Plus; Rob Beeler, Publisher at AdMonsters; and Jeremy Hlavacek, VP of Programmatic at The Weather Company.
One point of difference that emerged quickly among the three panelists was how easy it had been (or hadn’t been) to implement header bidding across their organizations. But despite the aches and pains of adopting it into their respective corporate strategies, all panelists agreed that header bidding was well worth it; it seemed to have an undeniable “revenue velocity”. Stephanie reported a 70% sales increase once A Plus implemented header bidding, while Jeremy noted a boost of somewhere between 15% and 30% in total net profit. Another point of agreement: each of the panelists singled out latency as the challenge they wanted to see most improved in header bidding. In case you missed it, watch the full panel discussion here.
Following closely on the heels of the discussion panel was a presentation entitled, “A New Approach to Video Monetization,” delivered by AppNexus’ SVP of Video Technology, Eric Hoffert with an introduction to the topic by Senior Director of Product Michelle Smith. In her talk, Michelle walked the audience through the ins and outs of buying inventory using AppNexus’ new video buying capabilities. With over 85 clients representing 450 brands already using AppNexus Video, Michelle showcased a series of KPIs that would be music to any attentive marketer’s ears: not only was AppNexus’ video buying product better (around 10x to 100x better to be precise) at reaching specific, relevant audience segments than its competitors, but buyers using it reported a 300% overall increase in video engagement CTRs. Furthermore, the AppNexus video marketplace can directly link buyer to seller without the need for many intervening middlemen, the use of walled gardens, or multiple “closed” systems. These factors reduce the markup traditionally spent on video ads, enabling buyers to buy more of publishers’ available video inventory for the same dollar spent elsewhere. This results in building greater demand for publishers great video content.
On the sell-side, Eric explored key topics related to publishers and video monetization. He started with review of a major issue on publishers’ minds – video latency – looking in-depth at the reasons why audiences have to wait too long to see video content and advertising. He showed a live preview of the AppNexus Seller Tag – an integrated multimedia monetization framework – combining banner, video, native, and new content type placements in a single network request. The presentation wrapped up looking at opportunities for mobile video demand in apps, demonstrating options in the near term to power publishers building apps for iOS and Android.
After a quick networking session (as well as much-needed break for caffeinated beverages), Brad Nelson, Director of Product Management, PTG, and Marius Rausch, Director of Product Marketing, PTG, took to the stage to present the details of the AppNexus Publisher Suite, a new series of sell-side products that AppNexus had launched the previous day at Summit (and which many across the industry speculate already presents a better alternative to Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers). While the AppNexus Publisher Suite is vital as a whole in helping online publishers monetize their yield holistically, Brad and Marius chose to focus on one of the most crucial pieces of the “Publisher Suite puzzle”: the AppNexus Publisher Adserver.
Why did AppNexus feel that now was the right time to build a brand-new ad server? Brad began answering that question by stating the basic necessities that a modern publisher ad server ought to provide. First and most obviously, it needed to provide a direct link between buyers and sellers. Brad’s second provision was that it should function more democratically. Rather than serving as a “walled intermediary” between supply and demand, today’s ad server needed to be open to any demand source – not just a few.
Brad also stressed that the modern-day ad server needed to be more intelligent – and perform more intelligently – than today’s existing options. The ability to provide an accurate forecast of supply and demand for buyers and sellers would be paramount to the success of any ad server. Furthermore, the new ad server would be able to take every nuance of forecastable data into account in real time when allocating space for serving impressions.
The new AppNexus Publisher Adserver does all those things. Equipped with Yieldex Analytics capabilities, it is able to provide immensely accurate forecasting that increases revenue for publishers and maximizes brand exposure for buyers. When compared to Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP) for forecasting accuracy, AppNexus is 80% or more accurate 90% of the time; DFP is 80% or more accurate less than 50% of the time.
But what makes the AppNexus Publisher Adserver so truly cutting-edge, according to Brad, is the agility and intelligence by which it can act upon audience data and forecastable information. The server’s ability to accurately allocate impressions in real-time allows sellers to practice the science of yield management. Using AppNexus’ bidding technology gives them the luxury of “even-paced” campaigns that improve total yield by an impressive 21.3% over traditional delivery mechanisms such as non-guaranteed revenue priority.
The final presentation of the AppNexus Publisher Forum was called “How to Win at Mobile Monetization,” delivered by Arel Lidow, VP of Product Management, PTG.
Arel began by citing that the current landscape of mobile remained an essentially “closed ecosystem.” Ad networks monetize the vast majority of mobile inventory at undisclosed take rates that, if disclosed, are often found to be unfairly high. Meanwhile, the transparency into actual sources of demand tends to be incredibly low. As a result, publishers lack the insight needed to allocate inventory for buyers in a way that can maximize brand exposure. They also aren’t given enough information to understand the value of their inventory at the impression level.
While these problems can be daunting, AppNexus is nevertheless working at providing more transparency to mobile transactions over the coming year. Using a tool called AppNexus PriceCheck, mobile publishers will be able to make a direct call to AppNexus, anytime, for any given impression. PriceCheck will then return a CPM price for that impression and offer to buy the impression for the noted CPM. Using PriceCheck in such a way enables publishers to implement a “header bidding”-style strategy, passing the price of their mobile inventory into their ad server and comparing PriceCheck price against the eCPMs of other networks. All these factors increase demand density, which in turn serves to drive up total yield.
And then, after a networking lunch, our inaugural Publisher Forum was over. We look forward to hosting similar such events in the coming years!