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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Publishers: Use your data to close and retain more deals

July 26, 2021 | By Dan Lawton, VP, Business Development – DoubleVerify @DVPubSuite

To convert brands in direct-sold sales conversations, publishers are tasked with proving the quality of their audience and inventory. From prospecting to sales decks to wrap-up reports, we’ve increasingly heard questions about how publishers can use third-party data to support the sales process. The good news is that most organizations already have a lot of valuable data that is leveraged by other teams.

However, just because your organization is collecting data doesn’t always mean that it’s being used successfully. This can be due to lack of alignment on organizational strategies or data living in siloed or complex systems. Often, it’s simply about having a lack of time to understand how to effectively leverage the data. Most ad ops teams are plugged into a variety of data sources that can also provide valuable insights and compelling stories to support the sales process.

Ad sales teams can increase direct sales by using data to zero in on the right buyers and showcase value in pitch decks. They can also use it to effectively package inventory and report on campaign performance in a meaningful way to clients. 

Finding the perfect buyers

Prioritizing the right buyers is one of the largest challenges for sales teams everywhere. Leaning on existing relationships or brand recognition can work up to a point. However, informing your prospecting with additional data sets allows you to quickly identify the right prospects to approach and shed light on new market segments. One example of this can be found in a publisher’s programmatic data. With normalized advertiser data, sales teams can identify the biggest spenders on open exchanges for more detailed buyer analysis.

Once those potential buyers are identified, it’s important to understand compatibility to ensure you can tell a story that aligns with a brand’s goals. This typically comes in the form of media quality data from verification vendors that measure metrics such as viewability thresholds, fraud rates, and brand suitability. Based on specific brand goals, content alignment and risk tolerance, publishers can further narrow their list to only include prospects that match up with what their inventory has to offer.

Highlighting inventory and audience value

As a premium publisher, it’s not enough to simply tell buyers that you know your audience. Advertisers only pursue direct deals if they’re confident that the inventory purchased is reaching their ideal audience. First-party data can be helpful here. It allows you to discuss content engagement, demographics, traffic and other metrics that showcase site performance and your user personas.

However, this story becomes even more powerful when combined with third-party measurement and contextual data such as overall viewability, engagement metrics, invalid traffic rates, and more. All of these use established industry standards such as those supported by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

The biggest challenge here is understanding how to line up these data sets. They you can decipher which metrics are going to resonate most with buyers who want an objective truth. More specifically, which metrics gives them the confidence that delivered impressions will reach these users consistently. When used in conjunction with data-driven prospecting, data used during this stage of the sales cycle can provide an opportunity to easily show clients how you can meet their needs.

Advertisers also want to understand where their creatives will go and how they might perform.  Creating compelling, tailored packages using all of the available first- and third-party data can level up your pitch. It also helps ensure that expectations are clear going into each campaign.

Telling the performance story

Now that you have the client, how do you retain and expand the relationship? Traditionally, campaign wrap-up decks include run dates, traffic drivers, top-performers and other KPIs. This is a great place to leverage data from different sources to drive home how quality, engagement, and context help brands meet their goals.

Third-party data enables you to confidently highlight benefits such as:

  • You serve zero fraudulent impressions
  • Your campaigns met the client’s viewability thresholds
  • Campaigns were served alongside content that positively supports the brand’s image
  • Make goods won’t be necessary due to successful targeting

Whether campaigns meet buyer expectations or not, third-party data sets can serve as a retention tool and allow you to speak the same language as your customer. Your team will be able to outline what worked and what didn’t, while including data-driven recommendations for the next campaign. This strategy will give buyers more confidence in your ability to course correct and maximize their return on ad spend.

TLDR: It’s important to infuse your sales strategy with data

Gone are the days where the only sources of buyer friction came from viewability discrepancies and buffering requirements. Yes, those still remain. However, buyers increasingly value inventory that is brand suitable, fraud-free, and in-geo. This makes inventory scrutiny and sales conversations more complex. But the right data can cut right through that to increase conversions and drive business.

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