We caught up with Aller Media Head of Programmatic Susanne Persson to find out more about how a premium publisher tackles programmatic, data management platforms (DMPs) and the benefits of private marketplaces.

Aller Media Sweden started trading programmatically last year – can you give us more background on this?

Aller Media started working with Netric as its SSP in May 2015. As a business, this was part of a bigger focus on digital across the business, and specifically on digital revenues as print growth slows.

I joined Aller from Bonnier in August, with a dedicated focus on growing the programmatic business – and we’ve seen new revenue every month since.

I also think hiring someone dedicated to manage programmatic and support existing sales teams was the right approach to take, as opposed to expecting people unfamiliar with it to support it 100% themselves from the outset.

90% of sales coming from new customers, who didn’t even trade with us before

As a super-premium publisher, what do you think changed to make Aller take the plunge?

I think the time was right, in terms of programmatic no longer being seen as cheap, unsold or even “remnant” inventory. My view has always been that it’s just another way of selling – and that doesn’t necessarily mean it costs less. 

My focus from day one has been on achieving the highest fill rates, alongside maintaining the highest yields. And since it’s much harder to raise prices than lower them, as far as possible our programmatic and direct rates reflect each other. We´ve seen some fantastic numbers on almost all of our sites but there are a few things that stand out.

Svenskdam.se has seen eCPM increase some 190% year-on-year. Over the same period, Svenskdam.se also doubled its fill rate to 65%, some months even surpassing that.  We see equally encouraging numbers across our other sites.

What have been the main benefits of programmatic for the business?

Since last year, the results have been really good for Aller – with 90% of sales coming from new customers, who didn’t even trade with us before – for instance some of the big telecoms companies.

Also, while our biggest titles like Elle and Café are regularly sold out, for some of our smaller sites, we’re able to group them together in the Rubicon Project platform, and sell them as verticals – for instance fashion or family – and the increased reach means more revenue than we would have gotten from each brand on its own.

What has been your approach to private marketplaces?

I talk to the agency trading desks almost every day, and we’ve been doing a lot of work to build up those relationships. It works both ways - if they want a PMP, they contact us and we negotiate and likewise, if we are seeing surplus inventory on a site, I contact them. It’s mutually beneficial, and this is definitely part of programmatic that is working really well, contrary to what you sometimes read.

What about data? Do you have a DMP, and is this an area you’re developing?

Yes, we are working with Nugg.ad as a DMP and can add different data points on our campaigns. But it's an ongoing process of how we work with our data in order to have the best possible offering for our customers.

It’s similar to how we see automated guaranteed developing – although we were the first in market to offer this last November, demand still has to catch up. The same goes for high impact formats – like programmatic wallpaper/skins or interstitials. Sometimes it just takes one really successful campaign to take the lead before the rest of the market follows.

How do you see the market developing next? What will be the most important trends?

I expect we’ll see more and more digital spend moving over to programmatic, with bigger campaigns as well as new formats like native coming to this channel.

Unlike some other publishers, we haven’t yet experienced ad blocking as a major concern, and likewise the shift to mobile – where we are seeing up to 80% of our audiences on some brands – is presenting good yields for us, so that is also a huge positive.

Why did you choose to work with Netric? What are the benefits of working with them?

On one side, the Rubicon Project system it’s built on is very robust. On the other, the Netric people are really fantastic – I always think Netric is like an extra colleague – an extension of our team. The service is so outstanding versus some of the competition there really is no comparison at all. Whether it’s strategic advice or practical day-to-day help and assistance, the service grade is so high that it translates to a clear business advantage.