This post was most recently updated on January 18th, 2023
In an effort to squeeze every penny out of their ad inventory, many publishers are turning to direct ad sales. Private marketplaces (PMPs) have become a popular way for publishers to sell remnant and premium inventory directly to advertisers and agencies. In this article, we’ll explain what direct ad sales are, their benefits, and how to find the right advertisers. We’ll also give you some advice on deciding whether or not selling ads directly is right for your business.
Direct ad sales create a direct relationship between publishers and advertisers, eliminating the mediator like programmatic ad agencies, ad networks, SSPs, or DSPs. The only way for publishers to make money before the advent of ad technology was through direct deals. Once programmatic media buying came up, publishers were able to reach a global market and sell their inventory for the highest prices possible.
Furthermore, with programmatic auctions, small publishers don’t get left behind when it comes to making money off their booming websites. Direct deals are still relevant up to this day since they are more personal compared to programmatic auctions and can also be automated via Google Ad Manager & other ad technology platforms.
With direct deals, you have total control over evaluating campaign creatives beforehand. In this way, you can ensure your ads are contextually relevant and do not negatively impact your site’s user experience. Due to the lack of networks and exchanges matching the audience and automating the whole procedure, the creative review process can take up a considerable amount of time. The result is successful direct advertising campaigns that your audience loves with a better engagement rate than before.
The main reason why publishers may prefer direct deals over other options is the ad revenue. Ad exchanges or ad networks are basically the mediators that match brands/advertisers to ad inventory simplifying the whole programmatic media buying game. In return for this service, the company takes a cut from advertisers’ ad spend as well as from publishers’ revenue.
After a few transparency-related discrepancies between big names in the ad tech industry, many companies began sharing the exact amount of shares they charge from both parties. The share percentage varies from company to company based on their policies. Removing these middlemen parties should visibly spike the ad revenue. Even the biggest media publishers reserve only a small portion of their advertising inventory (premium quality) for direct deals.
This lets publishers charge more for their ad inventory from advertisers. All they need to do is maintain a well-organized ad stack, spotlight their premium ad inventory and sell them right away.
Using ads full of spammy redirects will only make your audience bounce, block ads, or both – ultimately harming your revenue and rankings. Programmatic facilitates this to a great extent. The demand sources (ad networks or exchanges) typically engage in arbitrage by reselling inventory more than once. In this case, an ad impression is rendered on your website after a lengthy chain of redirects is completed. This unleashes several openings for nefarious actors to inject all sorts of malware into your website. Direct deals with advertisers remarkably brings down the malware risk enabling you to serve risk-free ads on your site.
You’ll need the following to get started with Direct deals:
A media kit is a link that provides all the details and insights based on your audience & traffic. Your Media Kit should be easily accessible to the public, designed to be presentable, and contain factual information like the metrics explaining the potential reach of your site. The more data you share regarding your audience, the better credibility, trust, and transparency you’ll build with advertisers.
Here’s an example of the Forbes Media Kit:
Your rate card will list the prices of all ad placements that you offer in a single document or on your website. You can list down all advertising placements and ad units that you wish to display for direct deals. Advertisers interested in your inventory can tie their budget to your price expectations by viewing your rate card.
In addition to showing your prices, it also shows all the kinds of ad types you offer on your website. You can keep the rate card simple & straightforward. Here’s an example:
Spec sheets are the ‘terms & conditions’ guides that include all technical data & policy details. In spec sheets, you can list the ad size, ad type & ad format specifications which can also include rich-media requirements, third-party ad tag acceptability, etc.
It’s fair to say that lots of traffic and niche-based audiences make your website attractive to advertisers. But how will advertisers discover you & how can you cherry-pick the relevant advertisers?
Here are some tips you can use to find the best advertisers for direct deals:
For the rest of your advertising inventory, you’ve got header bidding, open bidding (exchange bidding), & private marketplaces. Direct deals are solely for premium or exclusive parts of your ad inventory. If you’re new to this, make sure you carefully split up your inventory between programmatic or direct deals.
99% of publishers depend on header bidding to get ad networks/exchanges to fill the remaining of their ad inventories. Also, for unfilled ad inventory, there’s AdSense rerender. So, if direct deals don’t work, programmatic deals got your back. Likewise, programmatic advertising offers similar or maybe even better performance on your ads with sophisticated audience matching & ad quality measures.
Here’s the course that 300+ pubs used to scale their ad revenue.
Paid to Publishers
Ad Requests Monthly