Over the last decade, AdTech has focused like never before on solutions that help publishers boost ad sales, refine audiences and automate buying processes. The more significant advances focus on supporting marketers and buyers, with other promises of end-to-end automation (ahem - "programanual") falling short. With each innovation designed to increase the value of an audience or drive more revenue, there is an opportunity cost for those tasked with keeping the advertising lights on, with every exception and not-yet-standard process creating friction for the business and ad clients alike.
I work in the trenches with premium publishers and continue to witness how challenging it is to create room for growth and strategy (of people, customers, and therefore the overall business). There should be increased investment in making the standard, well-known executions run as smoothly as possible.
As we emerge from the pandemic, publishers are facing increased pressures in two critical areas:
- More complex demands for service and support from advertising clients. In an increasingly connected world, business buyers have come to expect more consumer-like ("Amazon-like") experiences. The pandemic has played a huge role in accelerating demand for digital transformation within the B2B space, and recent research shows that buyers and sellers prefer this new reality.
- The job market is more competitive than ever before. Resignations are at an all time high and publishers are challenged to retain team members in key roles like account management and revenue operations.
What are the Key Pain Points for Publishers?
FatTail, along with Beeler.Tech and CoLab Media, recently surveyed senior ad operations and revenue leaders representing 95 global publishers to gain insights into industry trends and forecasts related to operational friction and high transaction costs. The survey results show that the most time-consuming and labor intensive processes for publishers are as follows:
- Creative management - 37% of respondents
- Client status updates - 35% of respondents
- Client communications - 31% of respondents
- Invoicing and payments - 22% of respondents
65% say that it's challenging to get information from siloed teams or systems, while 95% say that the majority of communication with clients happens over email. Despite these significant pain points, only a small percentage of the market is planning to engage in help to address these issues.
Efficiency Will Deliver Value and Creates a Revenue Opportunity
Recouping time spent across the organization and providing clients and employees with direct access to information and automated workflow frees people up to collaborate on ideas instead of execution, which drives revenue and retention instead of simply maintaining the status quo. Instead of just throwing more bodies at the problem, publishers should focus on digital transformation; investing in technology solutions and automation removes tedious, mundane tasks and creates more time for creative and fulfilling work. Here are four key ways publishers can adapt:
- Self-service for advertising clients. Publishers need to provide a point of service differentiation and save time by providing advertising clients with direct, self-service access to campaign data, reporting and key tasks/interactions e.g. uploading creative assets, review and pay invoices, contact support.
- Self management for internal teams. Publishers should invest in a better communication layer between teams and specialized tools to make users more self-sufficient. Consider ways to simplify workflow, reduce ad hoc requests and empower frontline teams with post-sales information, e.g., invoice details, reporting, status.
- Maximize the value of your order management system (OMS). The OMS is arguably the most powerful yet most under-leveraged asset in the pub tech stack. Inventory, pricing and product information, and workflow automation should be extended outside of operation's teams to automate discovery and deal origination at the point of sale and streamline intercompany workflow. If the OMS does not already provide these capabilities to internal teams and advertisers, publishers should challenge their vendors on roadmap plans to deliver them.
- Find low cost/high-impact ways to create more meaningful roles. Publishers have most of the tools and data in place today. By leveraging technology to open up access to information and execution, publishers can refocus their human resources to more meaningful and strategic efforts. Automating mundane tasks and communication is much more cost effective and scalable than hiring more people, it is also a sustainable long term alternative. Bonus: more engaged employees deliver greater value to their clients and to the organization at large.