Programmatic is proliferating rapidly and it’s no longer viewed as a means to move cheap inventory through ad servers. Thanks to data, programmatic is now creating premium programs and, when coupled with other products like native, it’s increasing engagement and CPMs. Still, programmatic doesn’t sell itself, so arming your sales team with the right tools is key. Not only that, it’s important your team understands the technology and its benefits. Here, Scott Harris, vice president of sales and marketing at IDG TechNetwork and speaker at FOLIO:’s MediaMashup on April 3 in New York City discusses how his company tackles programmatic while organizing and educating its team.

FOLIO: How are you training and organizing your sales team to get the most out of programmatic?

Scott Harris: We initially entered the programmatic market over three years ago with a bifurcated approach, consisting of direct and programmatic sales teams. We’ve since integrated the two groups to create a single point of sales for our advertisers while also investing in new resources such as platform managers, yield analysts and business intelligence strategists in order to create a comprehensive programmatic resource. Today, our sales and operations teams work in sync to evaluate how deals are structured, analyze performance, ensure optimal delivery for our campaigns and effectively communicate this information back to our clients.

One of the challenges we tackled during this integration process was in training our direct sales team on the details of programmatic in order to build upon their core competencies of the subject, educate the staff on our capabilities and, most important, define our value proposition in the market. To accomplish this our programmatic team developed a month-long series of educational town halls for the entire company, covering everything from the general programmatic landscape to how dynamic allocation is executed within our tiered structure. We then incorporated all of the material into training manuals, FAQ documents and sales collateral to create a centralized knowledge source for our staff. The process worked well in bringing the teams together to make the concept of programmatic more approachable and instilled a greater level of confidence across our sales organization.

FOLIO: Which metrics are really speaking to you now that perhaps you weren’t looking at a year ago, or even a few months ago?

Harris: The insights we continue to develop around our data and the audience behind impressions served is particularly interesting at this time. When we leverage the exclusive first-party data of IDG with our programmatic capabilities, we’re able to target high quality micro audiences at scale. Through this data we can ascertain a user’s stage in the purchase funnel for a particular product and match the impression with the most appropriate ad creative in our rotation. It’s an exciting area of development for us and it continues to yield new information we can apply not only towards our display inventory, but video as well. We conduct a high volume of pre-roll business on our network and using data as a means to improve factors like video completion rate, viewability and engagement is a significant factor we examine on a consistent basis. Since we continue to see a greater adoption of programmatic strategies from our advertisers, it’s important we continue to advance our data-driven solutions in order to increase our targeting proficiencies and generate greater value in our CPMs.

FOLIO: What’s the most critical media trend development in 2014 that you’re keeping a close eye on?

Harris: Brand safety is an integral part of our philosophy at the IDG TechNetwork and managing our inventory to control for factors like non-human traffic, viewability, questionable content and proper geographic targeting is a critical focus for our team. Our advertisers expect greater efficiencies for their budgets and the market is pushing for more transparent solutions from programmatic partners. We recognize the need to provide validated campaigns for our clients, especially in video, and are constantly working to address these pertinent topics while also evaluating new technology solutions to ensure we remain at the forefront of this movement.


If your brand’s looking to put media innovation to work, register now for FOLIO:’s MediaMashup event on April 3 in New York City.

Native Advertising: Delivering for Partners While Retaining Your Brand Voice
Check out this related session at The Folio: Show, November 1-2 in NYC!

Editors have become a key part of the native-advertising conversation, as many successful media brands generate custom content for their…