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Holding Our Feet To The Fire

One of our Slack channels exploded this week because a publisher passed on a campaign we had lined up for them. While the rest of our team were voicing their frustration, I thought it was fantastic.

Publishers regularly turn down campaigns from our advertising partners because they don’t view the campaigns as a fit for their audiences. It’s something that’s a constant struggle for us (esp. our ad sales team) because we all pride ourselves on collecting the best possible advertisements we can for our publishing partners. While I can understand our team’s frustrations, I’m actually quite thankful that our publishing partners constantly hold our feet to the flame and demand better advertisements for their audiences.

That kind of commitment to audiences isn’t the norm in our industry anymore, but at BuySellAds we actually try to cultivate those kinds of publishing partnerships. Advertising online has ultimately become a ‘set it and forget it’ type of industry for the majority of people trafficking in advertisements online today. Measurement happens, but rarely at a level that considers audience perception as a key metric.

To see a publisher pass on a lucrative campaign because they don’t believe the product matches up with their audience is always quite eye-opening, and it tells me that publishers still get it.

Maybe I was naive, but I used to view online advertisements as products that were being endorsed by publishers. That’s not the case any longer, thanks to things like content ad networks, RTB, and other formats like interstitials, pop-unders, and basically every other interruptive technique now littering the side of abandoned ad tech highways.

Building trust is the only real currency a content producer has today. It’s increasingly difficult to hock snake oil for a living online. A quick Google search, or even a search on social sites like Facebook or Twitter, immediately reveals the truth about a product.

Some companies, like Wirecutter, get the value of maintaining their audience’s trust. They’re renowned for taking a trust-first approach to everything they cover online. Their audience has come to respect them tremendously for it. Most, however, seem to have forgotten that the trust and relationship between reader and content producer is what actually drives revenue growth. When that trust is gone, the power of advocacy disappears almost immediately. As a result, revenue tends to dry up pretty quick.

So, when publishers turn down an advertisement outright, I do a little happy dance inside. For me, it means that they take their audiences seriously. For me, it means that they understand the situation they find themselves in today. It means they’ve made our jobs a little bit easier in the long run because they have a lock on their audience demographics.

Publishers who understand the relationship between audiences and their brands are doing the most important thing they can online, protecting their most valuable commodity: trust. Without it, what do they have left? Not a whole lot.

Joshua Schnell, BuySellAds

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