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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Publishers: Consolidate your tech stack to drive growth

June 21, 2021 | By Mimi Wotring, SVP of Publisher Sales & Client Services – DoubleVerify @doubleverify

The rate of change in ad tech is intense. It’s being driven by demand for improved performance, trust, transparency and privacy. Many solutions to these problems target buy-side players. So, publisher technology has often been reactive, adding in-house or one-off solutions to solve specific problems.

The most successful publisher organizations are able to synthesize vast amounts of data to make optimized decisions. Unfortunately, the tools that enable this process have a tendency to make operations more disparate and isolated over time. Increasing numbers of advertising partners, technologies, and tools make it difficult to see the forest through the trees. In an ad tech world – where complexity is the norm – striving for simplicity has become a lost art.

From silos to synergy

While most organizations can see the pitfalls of an overly complex tech stack, many of these technologies are unavoidable. Each part of the stack serves a purpose and may meet the needs of a specific department. However, that doesn’t always lead to scalable outcomes that benefit the entire organization. For executives trying to improve cross-team collaboration and transparency in order to find new growth opportunities, the tech stack must be constantly scrutinized.

Time spent maintaining disjointed point solutions can be a full-time job. In addition, each department in your organization has increasingly complex goals and responsibilities that threaten to add more technology to the stack:

Each team often maintains legacy systems that may not be ideal for the changing scale of the entire business. There is an opportunity for media companies to undertake top-down initiatives that align team goals and processes at a higher level through unified data and technology. Many publisher tech stacks include most, if not all, of the solutions below. By unifying data between these tools and making data visible to more teams, decision making is improved and business goals are more easily achieved.

Economies of scale: playing the long game

Over time, tech solutions and workflows solidify. This makes it difficult to know how much time is spent maintaining these systems versus focusing on company goals. Reducing dependence on in-house or one-off solutions will have massive cost benefits as publishers scale.

With a unified data foundation and goal alignment, data silos created by disparate software are eliminated. Workflows are cleaned up. And holistic views of performance allow for additional optimization opportunities and more time is spent on growing revenue. The costs of the required technology solutions are also reduced. Instead, they are replaced by tools that can bring data together for multiple departments and use cases.

How to know when it’s time to consolidate

In smaller teams, individual operators may add specific tools that help one person do the work of many. But as an organization grows, you will reach a plateau that limits scale unless data, results, and opportunities can be easily shared. Increasing collaboration between departments presents exciting revenue opportunities, but only if those teams speak the same language. A simplified tech stack becomes a way to increase transparency and reduce the barriers for collaboration.

Questions to ask when evaluating your tech stack:
  1. What are the high-level business goals that each piece of technology supports? Technology should be added only after goals and supporting processes are clearly defined.
  2. How do department needs differ? Where do they overlap? Identifying areas where technology can meet more than one need for the company can help simplify operations.
  3. How much time is spent maintaining in-house or point solutions? In many cases, dedicated roles are required to keep solutions up and running.
  4. Do your systems talk to each other? How difficult is it to create a single view of performance? With the volumes of data that businesses rely on, it’s common to struggle to bring it all together in meaningful ways.
  5. What is the short-term investment needed to simplify your tech stack vs long-term benefits? This can mean looking at specific technologies, how they’ve been configured, or overall costs. It can be painful to think about rebuilding tech implementations for a cleaner, more effective foundation, but in the long run, you might be better off.

Tech stack consolidation allows your team to improve interdepartmental cooperation and transparency in order to capture new revenue. Less time and money will be spent maintaining and translating KPIs from various point solutions. The sooner your organization begins scaling its tech stack for the future, the sooner you can begin accomplishing top-down organizational goals with less overhead.

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