New AudioMag: Scott Bender on Programmatic Advertising

Scott Bender HeadshotProgrammatic advertising plays a huge role in the advertising industry, with somewhere in the region of 80% of all ad transactions happening via programmatic platforms.

Scott Bender is the global head of publisher strategy and business development with Prohaska Consulting, and in a recent episode of AudioMag he helped demystify the process for publishers or team members who are new to the space.

“I would say about 40% of our work is with publishers, but we also work with brands and agencies and tech companies directly,” Bender said. “We are tech agnostic. We are not a technology company. We don’t build our own tech. We’re there to help publishers both on strategies and on more technical help as well.”

“This is where buyers and agencies are looking to go ahead and transact. It’s easier for them, it’s more efficient and allows them to apply targeting efficiencies that they cannot apply on a direct IO basis,” Bender says. “It allows them to focus in on certain audiences that they couldn’t do before. The world is shifting from a digital buying and selling standpoint to programmatic.”

Benefits for Publishers

Brands and agencies are almost exclusively allocating their digital ad spends to the programmatic marketplace, and it’s a space publishers need to be in, if they aren’t already. Making the system work efficiently for the publisher and brands is key.

“Your sales team can’t be everywhere. Programmatic really promotes discovery for inventory. So suddenly now buyers are exposed to inventory that they wouldn’t have had time, or it wouldn’t have been practical to be able to buy before,” says Bender. “It also creates efficiencies in monetizing unsold or remnant inventory. Historically publishers from a digital standpoint would go to ad networks to monetize that inventory. Through programmatic channels in many ways they have more control. They’re really effective doing it themselves and they are seeing higher yields than they would otherwise.”

Evolving Role of Sales Teams

With changes in the advertising ecosystem, that means changes for publishers as well as the sales teams tasked with understanding the evolving space.

“I do think sales people’s skill sets are going to need to change and evolve over time. I think we’re in a world right now where historically selling media has always been selling content, selling inventory,” explains Bender. “Content has always been a proxy for selling audience. Meaning you’re going to sell news because a certain type of audience that that advertiser is going after has an affinity for news. With programmatic it’s less about selling media now and more about selling audience. And there’s a difference skill set involved.”

Areas of Growth

Sales teams will also be key in an area of programmatic that Bender sees as set to expand significantly in the coming years, and that’s programmatic direct.

“Where publishers and buyers are selling and buying digital inventory, just on a direct basis, utilizing programmatic technology to automate the transaction,” he says. “We see that as being an opportunity for all sides. For publishers to sell their inventory at the prices they’re seeking, for buyers to find inventory and find audiences they want at a more efficient level.”

This can take the form of a private auction between the publisher and several buyers, or it could be fixed price inventory.

“It’s the right for a buyer to buy the inventory at a fixed price, or fixed CPM with no guarantee that they’re going to get all that inventory. In other forms it could be simply a direct IO engagement, but done through programmatic channels. So that could be called programmatic guaranteed or programmatic direct,” says Bender.

Listen to the entire conversation with Scott Bender.

Find more episodes of AudioMag in our resource centre. Subscribe to our Cover Lines biweekly industry newsletter for magazine media, and we’ll let you know when we release a new episode.

AudioMag is produced by Tina Pittaway, an award-winning independent writer and broadcaster. Tina has been a contributor to CBC Radio and Television for more than 20 years. Her radio documentaries have been recognized with honours from the Canadian Association of Journalists, the Canadian Science Writers’ Association, the New York Festivals, Amnesty International and the Gabriel Awards. Visit Tina online at to learn more about her work.

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AudioMag is made possible with the support of Ontario Creates.

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