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Published October 2017

Custom ad formats deliver added value for everyone — more engaging experiences for consumers, better performance for media buyers and more efficient CPMs for publishers than standard banner ads. But scaling these top shelf formats is becoming increasingly difficult for publishers. This is due to the high touch nature of these deals and the fact that the direct reservation budgets typically used to buy custom ads are slowly being shifted to programmatic channels.

DoubleClick is working with Vox Media and other partners to address these challenges. The solution — Programmatic Guaranteed with custom creatives — marries custom rich media ad formats with programmatic demand, all while streamlining the operational workflow. It works by changing where the creative is being hosted — from the advertiser’s server to the publisher’s. This small but strategic change allows media buyers to set up Programmatic Guaranteed deals using DoubleClick Bid Manager. They then link their deals to their creative, which is being hosted on DoubleClick for Publishers, using a Creative ID. This way when an advertiser’s deal wins an auction, the associated ad is served instantaneously via the publisher’s server.

While the deals are still executed one-to-one, Programmatic Guaranteed’s thoughtful workflow and built-in automation dramatically simplifies the process for both parties. Additionally, it connects publishers with a growing pool of programmatic advertisers.

Programmatic Guaranteed with custom creatives allows us to scale our custom ad campaigns. Instead of requiring a team of four or five as with typical direct insertion orders, the new workflow in DoubleClick for Publishers allows us to have one account manager oversee the design, operations and the delivery of the ads from request for proposal, to optimization, to billing.

David Pond, Director of Programmatic Operations at Vox Media

Targeting a growing demand

Programmatic advertising now represents how the majority of digital advertising dollars are transacted in the US. In a recent report, eMarketer estimated that 78% of all US digital display dollars will transact programmatically in 2017, totaling a market size of about $32.5B. The report also noted that Programmatic Direct will represent about 56% of that budget ($18.2B) in 2017, and is expected to grow.1

As more ad dollars shift towards programmatic, Vox Media is working quickly to educate their clients on how they view the future of media buying.

Our job is to make sure we're unlocking capabilities and educating advertisers on the value of programmatic. It's not a race to the bottom in terms of CPMs, it's a race to the top in terms of the value we can offer. Programmatic Direct, whether it's through the programmatic marketplace or leveraging Programmatic Guaranteed with custom creatives, is going to become a larger part of our business.

David Pond, Director of Programmatic Operations at Vox Media

Programmatic Guaranteed with custom creatives not only exposes publishers’ custom ad products to more demand, it also creates a new performance standard for programmatic advertising.

A new standard for programmatic creative

Forward-thinking publishers are embracing the intermediary role of “publisher as agency,” as they realize the unique value and performance lift they can provide their customers.

We fundamentally believe advertising performance can be better industry-wide. The entire premise of our custom ad products is: if you're engaging users and not annoying them, they're more likely to interact with your ads. Programmatic Guaranteed with custom creatives bridges the gap between how buyers have always thought about performance and the future of programmatic advertising.

Megan Walton, Executive Director of Revenue Product at Vox Media

Ultimately, even the most technically advanced standard banner ads are limited to inside the box thinking. This constraint inspired Vox Media to create their sleek “Athena” unit. Athena, demoed below, delivers rich media experiences across both desktop and mobile devices, and can now be transacted and targeted programmatically through DoubleClick.

To illustrate the dramatic performance gains custom creatives produce, we evaluated Athena’s performance benchmarks against standard banner ads run across Vox Media’s properties. Here’s how Athena performed:

  • 165% lift in CTR
  • 310% lift in universal interaction rates (non mobile)
  • 300+% increase in touch rates (mobile)
  • 23+% increase in attention quality
  • 40% lift in video completion rates

Given the scarcity of premium instream video inventory in the industry, offering video ads in custom creatives is an attractive solution for publishers looking to scale their video ad products. Especially since units like Vox’s Athena are delivering a 40% lift in video completion rates across their media properties.

Right now it's all about video, agencies want to say to brands, ”We can get you video views,” so that's what we're focused on. Most brands today have videos on their sites and try to drive people to them. This is logically inefficient. We’re working to distribute their videos within our ad products to help them reach more people faster and without them having to click through.

Megan Walton, Executive Director of Revenue Product at Vox Media

The future of custom creatives and programmatic advertising

Programmatic Guaranteed with custom creatives marks an important moment for the future of programmatic advertising. It empowers publishers to take creative and programmatic strategies into their own hands and allows media buyers to no longer sacrifice performance to achieve scale and efficiency.

Stay tuned for more updates on Programmatic Guaranteed with custom creatives in the coming months.


About Vox Media

Vox Media is the fastest growing modern media company known for its standout technology, high-fidelity advertising, and house of editorial brands united by a shared belief in the power to go deeper to connect with global, passionate, curious audiences. Vox Media’s brands and businesses include SB Nation, Eater, The Verge, Vox, Curbed, Recode & Code Conferences, Racked, Polygon, Concert and Vox Creative. @voxmediainc


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