Publisher Direct Campaign – How To Choose The Right Media Partner
To advertise with a publisher direct campaign or not? That has been a key dilemma for some of the best buying teams I had the pleasure of working with.
More than 10 years ago I entered the world of digital media planning and buying. The industry was still very new, organic reach was still great on Facebook, and Programmatic was experiencing huge growth.
I had the amazing opportunity of working for Big Six agency groups such as Dentsu and Starcom. For some of the most outstanding brands in the world. It was there that I identified the need to scale buying teams on demand. This experience inspired me to create Adadot, an innovative tech platform.
Things have changed exponentially within the last decade. What didn’t change, however, was the need to deliver the best campaigns possible for clients.
In the piece we will explore the reasons and the best ways of selecting the right publisher for your campaign.
Why buy directly from publishers.
As Programmatic began to expand, a lot of buyers thought that direct publisher buys were dead. History says otherwise. How did the direct publisher deals survive the onslaught? They had something better to offer.
Ability to reach niche audiences
What does a High Net Worth Individual living in Wales and a University of Loughborough Muslim student have in common? They are both tough to target via Programmatic. If you have ever received a digital planning brief for a niche audience, you will probably remember the moment of panic as well as scratching your head, trying to figure out what data layer will allow you to appear in front of the right eyeballs. In reality, you are better off finding a relevant publisher and booking the campaign directly with them.
In a world where cookies are becoming obsolete, the abundance of first-party data a publisher has access to can seem like an oasis for advertisers. Subscriptions, competitions, and newsletters all allow publishers to capture valuable data that they can leverage in an advertising context.
Availability of formats
Did anyone say Advertorial? Or a Takeover? Programmatic advertising is all about scale. However, by default, that means that we often have to sacrifice creativity. Publishers don’t have to work towards the lowest common denominator. They can instead tailor creative formats to precisely what suits a particular campaign and their online property.
Share of Voice
Speaking of Takeovers, publishers have a huge ace up their sleeves. Depending on the type of deal, publishers are often able to offer exclusivity in the form of a high share of voice deals. While these are not applicable for performance marketing, they can be great for brand marketers looking to drive reach and frequency.
When is it best to go publisher direct.
There is rarely a wrong way to go publisher direct, especially for awareness related activity. That being said, there are definitely cases where publishers should be your first port of call.
When you need to educate
If you are a new product in the market or you need to change consumer perception, a direct publisher deal can be a great place to start. Advertorials and long-form content in a renowned publication can be a great way to get your point across in so many words.
When you need to elevate
Publishers can deliver something that can be very hard to find in any other type of media buy: credibility. Through the power of association with outstanding publications, your client can greatly benefit from a halo effect. The bespoke creatives can also make each brand appear more premium.
When you need to reach
Unique audiences, as we described above, can be hard to find via other means. Taking the example of an Ultra High Net Worth Individual, net worth data can be incredibly hard to come by programmatically. However, skin on Yachting Monthly has a good chance of getting seen by the right people.
How to select the right publisher for your campaign.
If you are used to Programmatic buying, this process will seem a bit old school. Most publishers should be able to tell you their (ideally independently assessed) audience makeup. These data points are typically in the form of percentages of total reach across specific demographic groups. For example, I would hazard a guess that the audience for Amazing Investments would be 60% male, 80% ABC1, and with an income of £80k pa and above. If you are advertising for a new investment account, you are in luck.
Once you are happy with the specifics on the audience, the next step would be to look through case studies of previous campaigns. Did a previous client achieve the traffic of their dreams? Has the last campaign they ran exceeded client expectations? Be sure to audit the track record.
Finally, commercials. Some publishers will throw in social media coverage, while others will offer to produce the creative assets for you. In each case, you will want to ensure that you are getting the right value for money before signing on the dotted line.