That’s considered blasphemous in certain sectors, where programmatic ad buying and selling is viewed with religious fervor, and it’s not uncommon for a Web publisher to work with a few dozen ad tech vendors. Yet this increasingly popular stance comes at a time when many media pundits are calling out the preponderance of ad tech as doing damage to the overall Web surfing experience, leading people to install ad blocking software while also funnelling money away from web publishers.
Of course, the term “ad tech” is a broad one that has come to encompass many aspects of how digital advertising is being impacted by technology, everything from the software that places ads on Web pages (i.e. ad serving technology, which the vast number of Web publishers employ) to digital tools that help marketers keep track of every dollar they spend online. And while the level of ad tech aversion varies on a site-by-site basis, these newer Web publishers are particularly guarded against third parties selling their ad space or accessing their audience data. They aren’t against more automated ad buying and selling, per se, but they are generally not so interested in partnering with ad technology vendors just to earn a few more cents for every banner ad they sell or person they target.
This stance won’t cause the well-funded ad tech industry to fold up its tent overnight. But it could have broad ramifications if these digital native publishers prove successful in resisting the trend toward programmatic ad sales. The question over time will be whether other media companies look to follow these sites’ lead, or whether the new publishers eventually capitulate and get on board with ad tech.
The reasons for this anti-ad tech bent are varied. Some of the publishers in question say they are learning from what they see are mistakes made by traditional publishers, who over the past few years started handling off lots of unsold ad space to third parties, only to see pricing take a hit.
“We are not running any programmatic whatsoever,” said Chris Altchek, chief executive at Mic.com. What Mr. Altchek really means it that Mic.com only sells its ad space directly to advertisers. “If you look at how the mobile ad industry evolved, for example, you have these incredibly low [ad prices]. It’s not super effective, and not a lot of publishers and advertisers are happy with it.”
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