Ahead of the Digital Innovators’ Summit 2017 (DIS 2017) in Berlin, AdTech Factory and BrightGen shared a preview of their Masterclass. It was dedicated to providing an insightful reflection and practical preparation for a successful future in ad sales and management.
The last few years have been busy for advertising technology companies dealing with the rise of programmatic, the emergence of native and the ongoing battle with blocking software.
So one of the top sessions at DIS 2017 would be, “Welcome to the Future of Ad Management”, featuring AdTech Factory’s MD, Michael Fischer, and our VP Media and Social, Duncan Smith.
What is AdTech Factory? How did you come to be and what are the key issues you are solving?
Duncan Smith (DS): AdTech Factory enables multiple publishers to share a single platform for fulfilment and invoicing of orders. The solution is designed to provide a single platform for CRM, Marketing, Analytics and Service to solve the common issues all publishers now share. “How do we adapt to the future business landscape?”
Michael Fischer (MF): With print sales declining worldwide and the growing need for investments in ad management technology, we concluded a scalable, adaptable, independent service provider, open for everyone, would be a key strategic asset. This would enable lower costs and drive ad sales.
This led us to create AdTech Factory, an ultramodern, channel-agnostic ad services platform. It is integrated across the ad sales value chain, from CRM to order management and fulfilment, but also across all media genres and sales channels. The BrightMEDIA booking engine is at the heart of it. The Salesforce CRM and analytics clouds are its soul.
For the first time we are enabling our clients to have an integrated and complete view of the markets they’re operating in, whether that’s print, digital, mobile, video or all other advertising media they’re selling. That includes the different sales channels (direct and programmatic) they are deploying. All in one platform, with a complete view of their respective sales pipeline. And fully mobile, available at their fingertips. None of the ad management platforms in operation today have that.
What do you think traditionally have been the biggest problems with ad management?
DS: The over-complication of sales and production processes due to the use of multiple disparate systems and data silos. Legacy systems that were designed for business processes that are no longer relevant and are unable to adapt to today’s market requirements.
Clean and accurate data is a constant issue for all publishers and one of the biggest complaints we hear. It is vital to think about the things that often get missed, such as the user experience (UX) and the user interface (UI). Technology needs to drive your business and enable you for the future. Technology should not be a barrier!
MF: I would go even further. At Burda, ad management used to be dubbed “the black box”. Nobody really knows what’s happening there, but there’s a sense that it’s super specialised and complicated. Also that it requires huge systems investments year after year. It is also labour-intensive, and, most of all, doesn’t scale well with declining order volumes, and not at all with declining ad sales.
And despite all the investment, a reasonable solution for integrated reporting of print and digital ad sales, for direct and programmatic sales or with a reliable quotation tool for print ads, ad specials and digital display ads does not exist. We had to change that!
How difficult is to integrate print media ads into the process?
MF: Our core belief was that if we rebuild our ad management infrastructure, we have to do it right. And doing it right means to start with the customer – our clients’ advertisers and agencies – and to make it scalable for other publishers and ad sales houses. Hence we started with a cloud solution and the CRM, where Salesforce provided the best technology.
When it comes to developing a cross-media booking tool on Salesforce technology, no application provider came even close to the solution BrightGen offers. Handling print ads is quite complicated, with smaller and often retroactive workflows than in digital ad management. Nobody has dared to develop a fully integrated, Salesforce-based solution for print yet – until now. At AdTech Factory, we make ad management simple. For our clients and for their customers.
Do you think that AdTech Factory could engineer a revival in sales of print ads?
MF: I would probably not project a revival in print ad sales. Yet I would expect that with our tools at hand, with the unique analytical power that gives our clients a complete view of the ad market, sales pipeline and current booking situation, of singular market developments and potential untapped potential, and with systematic sales controlling, we contribute to future success.
Before we start, we strongly advise our clients that they should define clearly what they want to get out of the transition to our integrated platform. Not just in terms of cost savings, but also in terms of marginal ad sales.
Are there any other ways that publishers can use the data that you generate?
DS: The future is all about publishers’ audience data and how it can be monetised. AdTech Factory is adaptable in capturing data for each publisher’s needs. This allows first party data to be captured and used from multiple sources.
How does BrightGen work with AdTech Factory?
DS: BrightGen is AdTech Factory’s technology partner, providing all development and support to AdTech Factory and its publishing customers. Our BrightMEDIA solution is Salesforce’s full media solution. We created it specifically for the needs of the media sector. It is the underlying technology for the AdTech Factory.
MF: BrightGen is the heart of our powerful platform. BrightGen helps us integrate our platform with all interfacing systems in the market (e.g. OBS and Du.on) and at our clients’ sites (e.g. CRM and Analytics Clouds, Journal Designer, SAP finance system, DFP ad server, AdX programmatic stack etc.). It’s a prolific partnership.
How do you see adverts evolving in the coming years? Do you think that there will be a significant swing towards native?
DS: Advertisers are increasingly using audience-defining insights to find and communicate with their consumers across all media. Advertising is changing, the nature of the audience is changing, and agencies are now chasing those audiences. Advertising is becoming much more targeted.
Programmatic is highly profitable for ad agencies, as well as efficient, tracing its origins back to ad networks. However programmatic has driven more ROI for the advertiser than the publisher.
Header Bidding, Programmatic Guaranteed, etc. These are plasters over diminishing revenue and have not or will not replace the loss of high-yielding, direct agency investment.
MF: The classic print display ad will continue to be less in demand. This is a shame as print advertising serves a very unique purpose in the communication mix, activating more and different regions of the brain than any other media and anchoring a brand message more deeply.
As native advertising, content marketing, influencer marketing, online video and other social media are in massive demand, we need to provide a technical solution that allows publishers to manage, schedule and report these ad formats, along with classic ads. Our platform is capable of doing that.
What do you think will be the other key issues for the industry in the future?
DS: Ad blocking is the elephant in the room and a real issue that publishers need to address. It’s projected this year that 32% of internet users in the US will be using ad blockers on a daily basis.
According to Adobe, over $20 billion worth of ad revenue was blocked in 2016. And of course what’s really to the point is that the users are inadvertently putting their favourite websites out of business.
There are a few options for publishers:
- Make the advertising engaging and not disruptive, then users will be less likely to use ad blockers. Don’t make them blink, pop up, flash etc. No longer place these types of adverts – try to stop at source.
- There is technology that publishers such as The Mirror and Telegraph in the UK are looking at, that detects if you have an ad blocker. It prompts the user that an ad blocker has been detected, asking users to deactivate the blocker to continue using the website.
MF: Our digital tech stack offers an integrated visibility solution. We have decided to partner with the Google DFP to provide the most advanced metrics and controls.
When it comes to ad blockers, we are working with our publishers to develop ad formats that don’t get blocked, either technically (native formats) or because users want to see the ad as it’s relevant. It is, indeed, a big challenge for publishers and critical for them to address.
At the end of the day, marketing trends come and go, they are substantially ephemeral. As a service provider, we need to offer our clients a solution that effectively delivers, that outlasts these trends and is flexible to adapt. That’s what we call “Power to Perform.”