It’s Still Too Early For Local Publishers to Give Up on Display

To many internet users, the first kind of online ads that come to mind are display ads, the familiar units that have historically been placed at the top of page or running along the sides. Yet despite their ubiquity, many publishers are abandoning display ads altogether, instead opting for sponsored sections, branded content and new, alternate revenue channels, according to a report from Digiday.

This is prevalent in local digital media, where publishers are feeling the squeeze from Facebook and Google, two companies that together are forecast to account for more than 65 percent of the U.S. display market this year, according to eMarketer. Unsurprisingly, Digiday quotes a local publisher explaining that they don’t sell display because they feel others are better at it.

There’s logic to that approach – why try to compete in a market dominated by two players with household name recognition and technological resources that no local publisher could dream of matching? But that fails to take into account that, even with Google and Facebook’s big cut, there’s still $32.1 billion on the table for publishers to grab.

Some of the hesitation stems from the fact that direct ad sales have slowed amid the rise of Facebook and Google, along with programmatic technology. But despite what they might think, local publishers aren’t completely shut out of programmatic and they can leverage the service for display (and other formats) without making heavy investments in technology.

Programmatic technology revolutionized the way display ads were bought and sold, giving advertisers a great amount of scale and targeting capabilities without having to execute thousands of direct buys. While early innovation was driven by large multinational advertisers and their agencies, the technology has now become so widely used that there are no longer hurdles for smaller publishers to utilize it themselves.

It’s possible – and relatively easy – for local publishers to partner with white label solutions providers and begin offering programmatic display advertising to their local advertisers. This means that the white label providers handle the technological implementations and the publishers’ direct sales teams can begin offering this service as part of their packages.

Publishers don’t need to stop sponsored sections or branded content, but they can bundle those direct-sale offerings with additional programmatic services. The advertisers can then see their display ads on the local publishers’ owned-and-operated properties, as well as across thousands of other sites across the web as the technology finds and targets their audiences.