The New Oreo, Part 1: The Page Layer

In the last Drift, we laid out the three revenue 'layers' that today's digital sales leader must tend to in order to maximize revenue. In this post, we explore 'the Page Layer,' a revenue stream that's at once familiar and increasingly complicated in today's market.

Once upon a time, the digital sales VP's job was pretty straightforward: you had a sales team you directly controlled; those sales people would then sell as deeply as possible into the 'inventory' of ad banners and video on the websites that you also controlled; and finally, you'd offload unsold 'remnant' inventory to a third party network. Simple.

Today not so much. With your sales people constantly torn between audience buys, contextual placement and deeply integrated sponsorships (and with agency buyers not always understanding exactly what they're asking for) it's gotten complicated.

The first bit of advice I give clients is to go back to your roots. Selling specific contextual placement and/or guaranteeing that a given ad will run on your domain on a given date is a unique capability and you must treat it as such. Some rules to follow as you seek to get the most value and return from the "Page Layer" revenue stream:

  1. Constrict the Channel: With almost no exceptions, people who carry your business card should be the only ones who can sell specific placement on your sites. You should be able to go into the marketplace with a straight face and say, "If you want to be sure you run on my site, or on that page, on Thursday you have to come through me. Period."
  2. Turn Down the Noise: While site design has improved somewhat, there's still far too much supply out there and the average web page looks like a cross between a NASCAR fire suit and a minor league ballpark. A site or page specific buy is about environment; make that environment a clean, well-lit place by cutting the clutter and eliminating the throw-away ad units that are dragging your CPMs down.
  3. Never Sell it All: Letting a given customer buy you out of desirable inventory is bad practice. You always want to have a little bit left on the shelf to offer to advertiser B. At the same time you are going to make sure you...
  4. Always Blend: Your dedicated page sellers should be good negotiators, and one thing they should always negotiate is deal composition. Blending page specific or site specific ad placement with run of site/run of network inventory takes nerve and professionalism. But it can and must be done.

The 'Page Layer' is a rich but finite resource. Too valuable to be thrown into the hash of an undifferentiated RFP process.

Next Up: The New Oreo, Part 2: The Integration Layer