Build your own Self-Service Ad Platform or Partner up?

“”For Publishers today, it’s no longer a question of if you should build one, but how you should  build it”

Given the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on ad spend, publishers will need to shift the way they are operating their ad sales. Building a Self-Service Platform is one key enabler to cutting costs and opening up new revenue streams, but the choice of how to have it built is not always an obvious one. 

Self-service ad platforms will play an essential role in the near future.
In the absence of Self-Service, the only way small- and medium-sized businesses’ (SMBs) can buy ads from their trusted publishers, is through the publishers’ sales team. This process is time-consuming and costly—but it is still the reality for many publishers.

As we covered in our last newsletter, we predict that when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, the SMBs will sit on extensive inventory stock and a significant need for building awareness. We talked about how it will become difficult for SMBs to advertise because of the expected surge of competitiveness in the ad market. Media buyers, planners, and SMB advertisers will have a hard time getting their new orders, paused campaigns, creatives, and change requests processed by the traditional publishers’ AdOps departments. Publishers will have to focus on serving the larger brands, media agencies, and planners, which will drive the SMBs to increase their advertising on social networks through their self-serve Ad managers.

The ad-buying process for the traditional publishing industry is still just that: traditional.  Calling up or emailing a representative to plan, negotiate, order, send creatives, as well as get statistics once the ad has gone live. Publishers needs to come up with a more efficient process than manually completing direct orders and working with each SMB advertisers individually, because  it’s incredibly costly.

By offering a self-service ad platform, publishers will be able to cut overhead costs with up to 90%.  Automating the entire process cuts down on both time and resource costs. It will also allow each advertiser to buy and manage their campaigns 24/7 which is a particularly important factor for SMB advertisers.

DanAds has encountered many different setups during our 8 years of building Self-Service Advertising Platforms. The main objectives of the platforms also range from cost-cutting to gaining efficiencies, to reaching new types of advertisers. Hearst Magazine, TripAdvisor, eBay, Bloomberg Media, and SoundCloud are all companies who are already benefiting from the advantages of  a self-service ad platform in different ways, and we see the trend spreading with a clear spike of interest from publishers within different sectors.

Developing a self-service platform isn’t easy. Setting up the software requires serious technology investments, market behavior and A/B testing know-how, as well as system integration expertise. There is a set of questions a publishers need to ask themselves before they get started. What is the primary objective of the platform? How many third party suppliers   needs to be integrated? What financial gains are we expecting and where does that leave us in terms of investment levels?

Given the level of complexity involved, it will be interesting to see whether the traditional publishers will have a crack at building it themselves or partner up with a self-service technology provider. 

There are pros and cons with both options but what we have seen during the last 8 years is that by building it yourself,  you most likely end up with a far more sophisticated platform than it needs to be due to legacy from existing use of third party systems.
Simplicity is a key success factor when it comes to setting up a self-service ad platform and this is easily lost when building a system from the inside-and-out. Using a self-service and advertiser-focused set of eyes is something that we would recommend to anyone going through this process.

Whatever route you choose – the self-serve ad platform-based model is where the publishers need to be headed, and with the right technology partner, you can transform your organization, and meet the market faster.

Want to bounce off ideas and learn more about navigating through the jungle of Self-Service Advertising choices? Reach out and we’ll talk!

Peo Persson, Executive Vice President Sales