Condé Nast’s programmatic journey, two years on

Speaking at the UK launch of Rubicon Project’s ‘Guaranteed Orders’ product, which automates future/guaranteed deals, Welch said that Condé Nast is “assimilating the ‘programmatic’ function into the greater digital business,” adding that guaranteed accounted for 13 per cent of the company’s total programmatic revenue in 2014 (with more than half of total revenue coming from private deals). Automated guaranteed revenue is currently a relatively small piece of the pie, of course, but it’s delivering four times the average programmatic eCPM vs open auction/real-time bidding for Condé Nast. And its revenue share is set to rise, according to Welch, who predicts it will exceed 25 per cent of total programmatic this year.

Condé Nast began using programmatic two years ago via iSocket, which was acquired by Rubicon Project together with Shiny Ads in November 2014.

Advantages of automation

Welch said that on top of the regular benefits of programmatic advertising, automated guaranteed “changes the game and conversations,” and the benefits are “purely workflow orientated”. “Automated Guaranteed reduces the process around buyer/seller/storefront transactions and we can now re-dedicate people to more strategic and /creative thinking,” he said. “Automation shouldn’t be scary – you’re just going to do different things day-to-day moving forward and people are going to be re-tooled and re-calibrated.”

Blurred lines

Of those publishers who have dipped their toes in programmatic waters over the last couple of years, many are now seeing a convergence of traditionally booked digital and programmatic advertising. A natural progression, one would suspect, but how does this affect business going forward? “It’s blurring lines between the traditional digital media and programmatic teams,” said Welch, adding that the “new digital representative” will understand and sell everything from custom sponsorship/branded content to data and programmatic executions.

Education, education, education

Welch said that this new technology has perhaps moved “maybe too quickly”. “We need to step back and educate, in order to bring the market with us. Education is key.” It’s clear that education is needed for both buyers and sellers to understand how to leverage the platform going forward, especially if on the publisher side, a merger of sales teams is on the horizon.

About automation

Until now, advertising automation has focused largely on non-guaranteed, ‘real-time’ inventory. But the latest iteration of this trend, known as automated or programmatic guaranteed, has the functionality to allow buyers and sellers to plan, forecast and trade advertising on a guaranteed delivery basis in future.

It marks a further step in the evolution of programmatic trading, where inventory across all screens can be bought and sold more efficiently, by-passing the so-called 42-step process of old, which involved several pairs of hands, as well as considerable budget and resource.

The aim of automation in advertising has always been about freeing up time for people to be more creative, to spend more time with clients and run more impactful, customised campaigns. With the scale that this new development promises to bring to this channel, automation could to be a game changer for buyers and sellers alike.

Share your thoughts with FIPP

How are you using programmatic to enhance your bottom line? Will it be the standard way of trading media going forward? What will the ‘programmatic trader of the future’ look like? Share your thoughts with Amy.

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