Study: Key Challenges for Digital Publishers 1

DoubleVerify (“DV”), a leading software platform for digital media measurement, data, and analytics, announced the results of a new study examining publisher challenges amid COVID-19. For the study, DV’s Publisher Division commissioned a survey of 300 executives in the digital media sector, including digital publishers and supply-side platforms. The survey was conducted online from September 11-18, 2020.

Nearly Half Struggle With Billing Management, Delaying Payments

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic impacting marketing plans, many advertisers have paused or reduced campaign spend. While publishers are facing revenue pressure, DV found that payments are being delayed due to challenges with billing. In fact, nearly half (47%) of all respondents stated that their organization “lacks the resources to support the billing and reconciliation process across our customers, causing payment times to increase.”

“Closing the books is one of the biggest operational drains for publishers, seriously impacting revenue and cash flow at the worst possible time,” said Steven Woolway, EVP of Business Development, DoubleVerify. “Publishers and advertisers need to work together to streamline pacing and delivery discrepancies, and to reduce billing cycles.”

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Three-Quarters Say They Spend Too Much Time Processing Data

Data management remains a key operational and revenue hurdle for publishers. Nearly three-quarters (73%) indicated that their organization spends “too much time manually processing inventory performance and revenue data.” Similarly, 80% stated the excessive time spent on data collection and processing “limits our ability to optimize inventory performance and revenue.”

“Publishers have to pull disparate data from all of these scattered connections, including DSPs, SSPs, and exchanges, then they have to consolidate, organize and normalize that data,” said Woolway. “It’s a cumbersome and repetitive process that takes resources away from more revenue-producing initiatives.”

Communication Is Biggest Campaign Delivery Challenge 

While the majority (67%) of respondents rated their organization’s campaign delivery process (the management of developing, running and measuring campaigns) positively, one-third (33%) described it negatively, as either “poor” or “fair.” The greatest campaign delivery challenges cited were “communication and synchronization across internal and external parties” (3.63 average ranking with 1 being the most challenging and 7 the least) and “not enough time to focus on analysis and optimization” (3.83 average ranking).

“From pre-launch planning to troubleshooting, communication misalignment on campaign delivery can undercut a publisher’s ability to meet the buyer’s goals,” said Pieter Mees , VP Video & Publisher Product, DoubleVerify. “Publishers, advertisers, and vendors need to be clear and transparent with one another to satisfy objectives and expectations. Publishers also said they don’t have sufficient time to analyze and optimize campaign delivery, which is critical. This could stem from time spent on onerous, manual activities, like data processing.”

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Publishers Cite Impression-Level Fraud as a Key Threat 

When asked whether real-time inventory quality data (e.g., viewability, brand safety, invalid traffic, etc.) was easily accessible for optimization, 80% of publishers responded that it was. However, there were some challenges – namely “lack of consistent media quality measurement methodologies between advertiser clients” (2.84 average ranking with 1 being the most challenging and 5 the least) and “the ability to proactively identify and troubleshoot impression-level fraud issues” (2.92 average ranking).

“Different advertisers often use a different combination of solutions to evaluate media quality or performance, impacting a publisher’s ability to make sense of how their inventory is viewed or deliver on goals,” said Mees. “To solve for that, publishers would benefit from better data pipelines and the ability to investigate data discrepancies to streamline their workflows and maximize their media’s performance.”

On the issue of fraud, Mees added, “Ad fraud isn’t just a buyer issue – it also eats into a publisher’s resources and monetization opportunities. Like advertisers do, publishers also benefit from technology to easily identify and act on invalid traffic to prevent fraud in real-time. This helps them prove the value of their inventory to media buyers.”

In August, DoubleVerify announced its publisher division to spearhead the company’s relationship with the publisher community, and to lead product innovation efforts designed to help publishers maximize revenue yield and reduce friction with buyers. The division features over 60 employees globally developing actionable insights and supporting R&D and engineering, all in service of helping publishers improve transparency, increase efficiency, and maximize inventory monetization. DV serves over 110 publishers, including more than half of the top-100 Comscore-ranked web publishers – fortified through the company’s acquisition of Ad-Juster in 2019.

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