Ad sales teams support clients with new technology in changing environment
Conference Blog | 14 December 2022
Advertising is changing, and news media companies need to begin tackling the future now to be prepared for the rapid changes already afoot. Mark Challinor, lead of INMA’s Advertising Initiative, recently discussed the need for publishers to be prepared at The Future of Advertising Sales Teams master class series.
“For over 50 years now, traditional media such as TV, radio, and newspapers have been extremely efficient and powerful at reaching the masses,” Challinor said. But as technology has introduced new platforms and consumer preferences have changed, digital advertising has provided a new way to reach customers.
As technology continues advancing and customer habits evolve along with it, advertisers will be looking for ways to meet their audiences in a variety of environments.
“And that’s where we can help, as consultative trusted sources of valued knowledge,” Challinor said.
Becoming a cookie apocalypse prepper
Not surprisingly, the cookie apocalypse plays a role in the future of advertising. Today, about 40% of users in The Irish Times’ local market are blocking ad cookies daily, and that number is growing. Eimear Moran, director of media solutions for the company, said soon that number will balloon to 95%, making only 5% of users targetable by advertisers.
“That is the very reason we have to move and move quickly — and why the advertising impact is a catalyst for the entire organisation,” Moran said.
Instead of getting deep into the details of first-party data with sales teams, the team emphasises what they are providing advertisers: “Ultimately what we explain is that with first-party, we are offering a client privacy, scale, and trust,” Moran said. “Those are the three things that we repeat constantly.”
Serving ads with and without tracking consent
In addressing regulatory hurdles, a lot of focus is still on cookies and what publishers and advertisers can still do them, Russell Foxely, data innovation specialist for The Guardian, said: “We’ve always talked about like it’s something in the future, but I think we’ve already crossed that threshold.”
It makes more sense for ad tech to stop focussing on workarounds like Google Privacy Sandbox and universal IDs, Foxley said: “I think that sort of misses the point.” These tools still rely on consent, and that’s something that happens at the point of contact with the publisher, he pointed out.
The Guardian has just partnered with a new ad server that allows them to still deliver ads when the user hits Reject All. So in the future, the Accept All and Reject All users will be set on different paths.
“That’s the key difference here,” Foxley said. “When the user hits Reject All, they’re not rejecting advertising. They’re rejecting their personal data being used.”
They will still technically be capable of targeting, but the current state of ad tech doesn’t allow for that so the company is going to have to develop a new platform that does allow that.
Supporting the needs of local, small businesses
Under Gannett is a company called LocaliQ, which uses the piles of data available and translates it for small businesses to deliver “better customer experiences (that) will lead to a change in relationships from temporary to permanent, resulting in more predictable revenue,” Kris Barton, president of digital marketing solutions at Gannett, said.
LocaliQ’s “proprietary learning algorithm” begins with a tracking code — a localized Google Analytics, if you will — embedded on the business’ Web site, which can identify what source a customer is using, whether it be an organic search, a paid ad, a social media page, etc. Data is also siphoned from the major search engines, such as the channels used (videos, displays, social media) and the format of the signals (Web site visits, emails, phone calls, etc).
Marketing automation follows. Once a customer makes contact, the technology can take over and add to the business’ list of names, automate emails and prompt reminders to keep in contact with those customers.
LocaliQ’s technology has been able to reduce cost per lead, improve the number of new customers by 50%, and in general help businesses more efficiently design their advertising and marketing campaigns, Barton said: “Some of you may be doing things very similar to this today. Some of you may not even be thinking of this at all. But it is definitely something to consider, because it really helps that relationship and build these partnerships with these local businesses.”
Weaving automation into the organisation
Automation is finding its way into more and more parts of life, including the news industry. There’s some understandable anxiety when automation comes up, as people start to fear losing their jobs, but Thomas Schultz-Homberg, CEO of Germany’s KStA Media, said the company has split the sales teams up — one handles the ad tech, the other handles the field sales.
Since splitting the ad sales team into two, Schultz-Homberg said KStA Media has seen an increase in ad revenue. When it comes to digital advertising, where automation plays a big role, the increase was about 30% over the past financial year. The overall ad sales, including all the platforms they have, was up about 5-6% — which is “big for an old media company.”
These kinds of results help demonstrate to the field sales team that automation with ad sales is a good thing. Additionally, they’ve also been able to see how automation in reporting is incredibly helpful.
“I think the fear of automation isn’t there anymore,” Schultz-Homberg said, “because they’ve seen that even if you implement automation perfectly, you’ll never be able to handle those key accounts with automation. No amount of machine learning will be able to match the relationship between the salesperson and the customer.”