WASHINGTON, D.C.-Like many newspaper publishers, the transition to digital and then to programmatic sales rendered the value of Advance’s traditional consultative approach to audiences and advertisers moot. But that has been changing.
“We’ve found that as programmatic continues to evolve, we’re seeing more and more consultative demand coming our way where we’re being asked to help unlock value of our audiences,” said Jeff Sutton, VP Audience Targeting, Programmatic & Data Strategies at Advance Local.
This is true particularly in the 2016 election cycle, Sutton explained during a panel discussion at the recent Beet.TV summit on politics and advertising. For example, small advocacy campaigns or down-ballot targeting efforts. “We may know a specific voter’s party affiliation, gender, age, vote history, partisan scores. But what we don’t know is about their lifestyle behaviors, that going outside of the voter model.”
This is where first- and third-party data, plus geo-location intelligence, can help to map out demographic and lifestyle indicators that are relevant to a given campaign. “Putting that together in a programmatic buy is becoming something that’s valuable on behalf of our advertisers,” said Sutton.
Moderator Julie Van Ullen of OpenX asked Sutton to explain the balancing act that is the melding of traditional direct-sold sales teams and the reality of sales automation. “We really respect the hard work that our local sales teams go through to be able to deliver revenue to the business every day,” Sutton said. “It’s really a hard place to be today if you’re selling digital in a crowded local market.”
But at the same time, Sutton knows that there is certain business that local sales teams just aren’t going to win. “So what we’ve been trying to do is work hard to develop a very democratic marketplace that allows us to sell every impression for what it’s worth,” said Sutton.
Perhaps the biggest transition has been to the company’s inventory, given its roughly 70 million monthly unique visitors approximately 700 million page views. “We thought for a long time that we had more inventory that we could ever sell,” Sutton said. “Now we recognize that we have to use the impressions wisely. Every one is a limited, precious thing. And finding a way to do that in contention with a local sales team sometimes, but also in support of a local sales team, is the art form that we’re trying to really get right.”
As for remnant inventory, there is none at Advance. “We’ve created three monetization channels and we have very little that drops out the bottom, by design,” said Sutton.