4 Questions Every Publisher should ask when selecting an Ad Partner

By Laurie Huang |
March 19, 2019
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Ad Ops & Digital Publishing News - Sortable

Monetizing a website can be a difficult and arduous process, and can often take a fair amount of time out of a publisher’s day. Here at Sortable, we believe a trusted ad partner can be extremely beneficial for your business, taking the stress out of selling ads, allowing you to put time back into creating content and improving your website.

A trusted ad partner should care about and maintain your user experience. They may suggest 6-8 ads that will result in more revenue initially, but that could detract from your overall user experience and the value of you as a publisher, and eventually, your bottom line. Finding an ad partner is challenging; how do you know if they have your best interest at heart? Are their client lists enough to sell you on their effectiveness? Will they make your life easier?

These types of questions and concerns can be difficult to assess through sales pitches, so we’ve compiled some ways to test your potential network partners whether you choose Sortable or a different service. The next time you head into a sales call, make sure you ask some of these questions.

What value do you provide to my business?

This should be your first question because frankly, this is the most important one: how will your ad partner (or any other partner really) benefit you as a publisher? What’s their promise to making your life better?

At Sortable, we recognize that our clients spend half their day creating their site and half their day monetizing it. That’s why we’re a fully-managed solution. We want to help publishers monetize their sites better so they can refocus their energy on creating content or improving the user experience. Effectively, we want to give you control over your day, not worry about how you’re going to pay the bills at the end of the month.

What are you all about?

Consider your ad partner's ethos. What are their beliefs and goals? Do they align with yours?

Credibility is something that’s proven over time; anything they say in an early pitch will probably feel canned or taken directly from their website. It’s important to ask to be walked through a product to see for yourself if it meets your needs, but don’t be afraid to test your potential partner.

For example, don’t follow up with them after that initial meeting; instead, see if they reach back out to you when they said they would. Are they attentive to your needs or does it feel like they’re just trying to get out of the office?

Reference checks, of course, are a great way of gauging a company’s reputation. But rather than relying on the ones provided by them, ask to be put in touch with whichever client they happened to have worked with last. Was that person happy with the service they received? Did the company manage to solve whatever issues were brought forward? Would the client recommend the partner? And why? What could the company improve upon? While this might feel intrusive, remember; it’s easy to say you’re credible, but it’s a lot harder to show it.

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What differentiates you?

Some ad partners are strictly focused on their own bottom line, driving sales for publishers so they can satisfy their own shareholders. While it’s easy for a company to say they work in the best interest of their clients, but what actually makes them different from other ad tech partners?

Here at Sortable, we want to put the emphasis on continually improving our product, so our company has a large development team. Time and time again, for example, our Sortable Analytics has been a factor as to why publishers continue to work with Sortable. Our UI conducts segment reporting to drive content strategy, audience development, and yield analysis. A recent example of our continuous improvement was recently launching our reporting API. Customers are now able to programmatically pull reports and data from our system via our API.

Does working with this ad partner accomplish my long-term goals?

How do you want your website represented? Can the ad partner best represent that?

This one might be best represented by another example: say you’re a food website looking to monetize your content. In an initial conversation with an advertising partner, you say you want to focus on premium ad sales. However, because of your long-term ambitions, Kraft is an important partner and you’d like to give them a priority. Does the ad partner’s technology only allow inventory to sell to the highest bidder or can you tailor the costs to different brands?

If Kraft is an important partner, is the company okay allowing you to maintain the contact, letting you as a publisher represent yourself? Or do they simply say “send Kraft to us – we’ll handle it.” That should be a red flag because you lose control of those relationships.

Systems like ours allow you to go in and manage your own inventory; we think this is an important feature for publishers because it allows them to control their own long-term goals. You should expect the same from whichever partner you choose. At Sortable, we consider ourselves to be a partner rather than a short-term solution. Our account managers and customer success team are invested in your success and continuously work with you to optimize your strategy (AB test, ad layouts, content, etc).

Whatever partner you choose…

Of course, you should always ask about how a potential partner's product works. How are ads sold? What types of ads are you serving? What does your targeting and retargeting abilities look like? How can I manage inventory? How does your algorithm work? How do you present reports? How is your revenue share structured?

These technical questions are equally important to ask. However, some of those issues are going to come down to personal preference, and it’s really easy to get caught up in the flash of a sales pitch.

The ad tech space is a super hot market right now, with plenty of competition popping up, all after your inventory.

Whichever partner you choose, how ever their network system functions, it’s really important to understand what makes them unique, and what makes them a company that’s going to work for your interests. After all, it’s your website, and your interests should pretty much be the only thing your ad partner cares about.

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