Thought Leadership

Partners, Not Just Pipes: Why People Matter in the Age of Header Bidding

July 24, 2018
By Allyse Slocum, Director, Digital Marketing

The business of ad tech is as much about the expertise that partners bring as it is about technology, particularly in the age of header bidding. Many different tech providers may “pipe” in demand, but a truly symbiotic partnership delivers more than just a quick revenue bump — the right monetization partner can help a publisher build and grow a sustainable advertising business.

While the definition of a “symbiotic” relationship will vary with each publisher, there are three services that we’ve found to be critical to help publishers achieve profitability (and go way beyond being just a pipe):

Business Strategy & Vision

When it comes to being a true partner, developing a long-term strategy with clients is fundamental in building symbiotic candor. According to Ryan Mulcahy, Rubicon Project’s Head of North America and APAC Revenue, This is an incredibly complicated and fast-moving space and we are here to help our clients make sense of it all so they can capitalize on the opportunities these tectonic shifts present.”

And while the industry relies heavily on tech, there’s no denying the impact of human relationships. “Even in this automated and real-time world, there are no days off and we never stop learning about our client’s business so that we can bring them the solutions they need,” says Mulcahy. “As one of the only scaled independent exchanges that leverages transparent open source tech, our clients trust us to give it to them straight – and in these parts, that is a breath of fresh air.

Taking a holistic approach to our partnerships allows us to take a step back and identify trends across clients, which we can then adapt to benefit others. Not all conversations are easy — we may recommend actions that clients might not be comfortable with, but that we hope will ultimately help them drive long-term revenue. As the ad tech environment evolves, it becomes increasingly important that publishers know they have a partner on their side, completely invested in their success.

Day-to-Day Account Management & Support

Day-to-day account management should not be confused with mundanity. “Every day is different,” says Rubicon Project Senior Account Director, Sara Tady. “We are the managed service arm for our clients. Our team is dedicated to growing publisher revenue; a pipe doesn’t just automatically do that. It involves finesse, exploration, and ongoing conversations.”

Though account management requires a level of technical savvy in order to troubleshoot various issues, it’s equally important that we first understand each publisher’s business model so we can be adaptive and prescriptive. “Account managers need to be empathetic,” Tady says. “To truly understand how to improve, we take the time to understand a publisher’s current position. What’s the business model? Why do they have multiple bid partners? Understanding these nuances allows us to build plans that are uniquely beneficial to each one of our clients.”

We also strengthen our partnerships by facilitating introductions and building relationships between our publishers and buyers whenever possible. Doing so ensures buyers know what inventory is available for their advertisers, benefitting both sides of the marketplace.

Engineering & Development Resources

There are times where we may not have the answers, and that’s where our dedicated team of solutions engineers come in. According to VP of Account Services, Casey Bryan, “There are certain things account services can’t do — back end configurations; serious errors that aren’t easy to spot. All it takes is a quick ticket submission, and our development team remedies the issue.”

For instance, the implementation of our header bidding prebid wrapper is very much a plug and play setup, but it’s still important that we involve our engineers in the initial setup. Making sure we map the integration correctly from the start sets the partnership up for success from the start.

Being at the crux of the marketplace gives us insight that most buyers and sellers don’t see from their respective place in the ecosystem. As such, we’re in a unique and often crucial position to provide key guidance to clients. So whether it’s troubleshooting issues with a particular deal or helping to build out a video strategy, we’re much more than simple “pipes” — we make recommendations that we feel will be best for our clients now and in the future.


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