Programmatic Advertising Holds Promise for B2B Publishers

For many publishers, digital advertising is a source of frustration. Too much inventory, not enough revenue. And B2B publishers can be at an even greater disadvantage without the scale to take advantage of the digital tools available to their B2C counterparts.   

Scott Roulet heard about those challenges again and again when meeting with BPA Worldwide members at the onset of the global assurance company’s creation of the B2B Media Exchange, launched last year as a private marketplace for audited B2B media. Roulet, vice president of the B2B Media Exchange, says when discussing digital revenue, the conversations generally weren’t positive.     

“We learned that in most cases they were seeing a decline and initially they weren’t really sure why,” he says. “But when they go back and start asking the questions, what they’ll find is that it’s not that the advertisers’ digital budgets are declining—in fact they’re growing. The issue is that they are shifting the way in which they engage with publishers and buy inventory. And that is the larger umbrella called programmatic.”

The concept of programmatic advertising—which is essentially a data-driven, automated way to buy and sell advertising inventory—emerged in recent years as a solution to the surplus of ad inventory following the boom in online publishing. Platforms have been created to help publishers, ad networks, agencies, and advertisers work in harmony to complete digital transactions in the blink of an eye.

But as the technology took off, specialty buyers and sellers were alienated, while marketers began asking for more authoritative media validation and audience targeting, Roulet says. As validation is the cornerstone of BPA, it seemed fitting for the organization to deliver a solution. Through the B2B Media Exchange, invited advertisers can now access a large pool of audited B2B media inventory. Publishers gain efficiency, the scale to attract large advertisers and agencies, and they maintain control over the process.

A second phase will allow publishers to transact with their direct advertisers and develop a data cooperative with enhanced insights.

“This is more than simply creating a private marketplace where advertisers can come in and buy inventory that publishers have not sold,” Roulet says. “That can be a possibility, but it’s much more fundamental than that. And it really is providing an enablement tool to help publishers compete in the digital space.”

So far, 170 publishers are signed up to participate, Roulet says. Among the onboarding steps is an inventory audit including technology scans, education tailored to a publisher’s needs, and a couple of hours of implementation.

The initiative is still fresh, but Roulet expects publishers and advertisers to see a mutual benefit and future growth in programmatic opportunities.

“This is our first step in creating an environment so that we can start applying verification in the digital ecosystem,” Roulet says. “As we look into the future, what’s going to be important is a verification of the audience. In the short term, in terms of revenue, what does it mean to me as a publisher? I tell publishers to expect whatever you put into it.”

For more information about the B2B Media Exchange, go to