Programmatic Will Surpass Traditional Ad Revenue at Bonnier in 5 Years, Says New Programmatic Director
Last month, special interest publisher Bonnier announced the hire of its first director of programmatic Semande Agosa, who joins Bonnier from the marketing automation software company PubMatic. Agosa plans to expand programmatic sales by forming new partnerships with technology vendors and anticipates programmatic will surpass Bonnier’s traditional advertising business within the next five years. That will become a reality as programmatic technology advances and it becomes easier for Bonnier to identify and target specific users for advertisers, says Agosa. When that level of targeting is realized, the value of programmatic ad sales will rise, he explains. “Once publishers deliver things like highly viewable ads and highly engage-able ads in a way that’s immersive and expansive on their sites, I think they shouldn’t be devaluing programmatic, but increasing the value on programmatic transactions.”
Here Agosa shares his plans for the future of Bonnier’s programmatic ad business and predictions for the evolution of programmatic technology.
Is the director of programmatic a new position for Bonnier?
Yes, it is. It’s somewhat of an altered position. There was a programmatic lead prior to myself, but it was more a sales oriented role, where there was an individual looking specifically at leads and things of that nature to generate revenue for Bonnier. My role is a little bit altered in its scope. It’s still sales oriented and revenue generating, but it’s also business development oriented with relationship management of vendors and considering how to grow the programmatic presence here at Bonnier.
What percentage of Bonnier’s revenue is driven by programmatic ads?
It’s still a small percentage. Our programmatic sales are still smaller than our IO business, but it’s growing fast. Over the next five years, programmatic will become a larger percentage of Bonnier’s business and eventually will surpass our IO-based buys. It’s a new way of doing business and the tools are getting better to support programmatic.
What are some of the big trends that you’re seeing in programmatic advertising today?
What we’re seeing now with programmatic is the advancement in the technology itself. Technology allows for both buyers and sellers to better communicate about a target audience. In the past a buy might have been over the course of an entire magazine, and hopefully the individual subscribing is the right individual. What programmatic is allowing buyers and sellers to do is specifically cookie the user audience that they’re looking for -- check for in-view ads, check for bot fraud, and check for duration and engagement. The technology is allowing for measurement and for both buyers and sellers to reach the right individuals at the right time and in the right place.
So is this type of programmatic technology that you’re talking about still a work-in-progress at Bonnier?
Absolutely. At Bonnier that’s part of my role on the business development end is to help weed through partners and make sure we’re using the right vendors to achieve the most optimal and efficient results. When it comes to advertisers, what we’re seeing is that they’re for the most part leaving it up to third parties to help watch, mitigate, and be the controllers of their audience and the extollers of their technology. I think eventually the trend is you’ll see the advertisers become smarter about their businesses and build that programmatic technology in-house or have an in-house team hold the agencies or the trading desks that their using more accountable for how their dollars are being spent.
Do you plan on implementing any changes in the way that Bonnier handles programmatic in light of the rise of ad blockers?
All options are on the table. I think right now we’re monitoring the impact of ad blockers within the industry. I know that trend has been on an upward trajectory and it’s costing publishers. What we’re doing right now is we want to make sure that we deliver the best user experience for our consumers. That involves speed, ad, and our content. Prior to us considering anything that has to do with ad blocking we have to consider the effects on those main pillars. Right now we haven’t made any drastic changes.
The other option is for brands and advertisers to create an experience that is more user-friendly, or to make sure that they’re targeting the right users. There is no one lane to end up at the right solution, but once we figure out what’s the right lane for Bonnier as a publisher, we’ll definitely take that.
What advice do you have for publishers that are trying to maintain the value of their ad inventory, despite the downward pricing pressures of programmatic?
I think initially when programmatic and open market auctioning came into play buyers and sellers thought it was an efficiency play at the monetary end. But I think with the enhancement of the technology and the transparency, it’s actually a value play because no publisher has to expose an audience and brand to each other that’s not deemed relevant. Instead of me showing you millions of users and hoping that 1% or 3% convert for you, now we’re transacting in a way in which you get to choose the user you want to see. If you’re choosing to bid on a user, I would think you should value them even higher now because you find value, quality, and relevance with that particular user.
How do you see programmatic ads evolving in the future?
In my opinion it should become the norm. Part of the thought with programmatic was to make the conversation between brand and publisher efficient. I should be able to let you know via a desktop experience what inventory I have available to you in real time and how much I have available in real time -- ad units, users. . . Instead of doing a study three months after a campaign you can actually measure it in real time if you’re hitting the individuals or showing ads to individuals that are relevant to them. I think five years from now that should be a play people will be able to measure better.