As VP of digital and programmatic sales at WideOrbit, a company dedicated to making it easier to buy and sell advertising, David Christopher-Morris knows how to help his publishing clients deliver on the ever-evolving demands of agencies and the brands they represent.
Eating up an estimated 73 percent of digital ad budgets this year — and now stretching beyond traditional display and into video, native, and even print — programmatic buying has emerged as a dominant force that's upended the ways publishers monetize their content.
Folio: sat down with Christopher-Morris, a featured speaker at the upcoming Folio: Show, to learn how publishers can best position their companies to rein in increasingly fickle ad dollars and embrace the new ways of getting things done.
Folio: What are some of your publishing clients' biggest priorities when adapting to the modern ad sales game?
David Christopher-Morris: Everyone is looking for centralization and efficiency. Convergence across different media types is always being talked about. When we talk with clients, they’re looking to streamline and make things more efficient. They don’t want one process for print and one for digital any longer, they want as consistent a process as possible.
From our point of view, our aim is to build the software that allows them to do that. They need the ability to manage print and digital ad sales in a single system, and have both aspects of that work natively. They want to be able to have a system that speaks both languages.
Folio: Is that borne out of changing demands from the agency side — a greater emphasis on integration?
Christopher-Morris: That is coming. There is still a split, though. Our publishing clients are asking us for it now because they see it coming. They’re ready for it. But there are still also some agencies and advertisers who have their digital buying side and their print buying side operating separately from one another. So as important as it is to bring everything together, it’s also important that you can manage each one separately with their specific specialists and have it work in that way as well.
The agency side is moving more and more to buying audience rather than a particular title, and aspects of that are coming into the print side as well, where the demand side or the buy side is bringing this concept of big data to the party and theyre deciding how they’d like to select their print advertising based on those data and demographics.
Folio: How can publishers make their ad placements more attractive to buyers? Is there anything they should be paying more attention to?
Christopher-Morris: From our point of view, we need to make sure that we’re able to allow our publishing clients to research their own print or digital space in such a way that they are providing the best possible offering based on a client's request.
If an agency or advertiser comes in asking for a particular type of buy — whether it's based on an audience or a position or a size or so on — that they’re able to be responsive. They can speak in multiple metrics and multiple languages. That’s very much the direction we’re heading in.
Folio: What kinds of trends are you seeing on the agency side in terms of measuring ROI?
Christopher-Morris: On the digital side, that’s in a state of constant flux. First there was just the standard impression, then it was viewability, then we had a definition for what was viewable. Now, it’s moving towards engagement time, a measurement of how much time was this ad viewed for, not just whether it was viewable or not. That’s becoming an oft-discussed metric on the digital side and is definitely going to be a hot topic for the coming year.
Folio: What's the next big shift in media buying that publishers should be aware of?
Christopher-Morris: That’s the multi-million-dollar question. Obviously, programmatic is making huge inroads. The promise of managing print advertising programmatically is certainly on the not-too-distant horizon. I think we’ll see quite a lot of concentration there coming up.
Video, too, is very much moving to that same convergence of buying audience. If an agency or advertiser comes along and says, "I just want to hit these eyeballs on this demo," the system can speak fluently as to whether it's on a broadcast ad on a local TV station or network, or whether it's on a digital property. That’s another key area for us.