How To Build a Programmatic Sales Team in Four Easy Steps

Programmatic Spending Will Rise 75.3% in 2013, Here's How to Start Selling it

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Today, the Interactive Advertising Bureau laid out a series of insights for publishers looking to build programmatic sales teams, its first. The insights, posted to the IAB's website, come in the midst of skyrocketing programmatic ad spending, which is predicted to increase by over 75% this year and 38.4% next, according to eMarketer.

In the report, the IAB listed three steps publishers usually take when forming programmatic sales teams. Here, we list those steps and, with the input of Alanna Gombert -- who co-chairs the IAB's Programmatic Publishers Task Force and runs Condé Nast's programmatic operation -- add a fourth.

1. Make sure your ad ops can handle programmatic campaigns.

Ad ops isn't exactly the most glamorous job in the world. Inside many publisher businesses, the "ops" people are viewed as a group responsible for inputting campaigns into ad servers and not much more. But that's changed with the rise of programmatic. Now, ad ops, the team closest to the inventory, is being asked to take on more intense yield management responsibilities. With various options available to clear inventory -- direct, programmatic or not at all -- an ad ops teams must figure out the worth of each impression and how it should be sold. So, according to Ms. Gombert, publishers looking to build programmatic sales teams must first have an ad ops team that can tackle yield management and set up programmatic systems to maximize revenue.

2. Start pushing programmatic but watch for conflicts.

Once a publisher understands yield, it can then hire or train a sales team to push its programmatic offering. The language of programmatic is different than direct sales, so it's important to have people who know the ins and outs of programmatic and speak the buyer's language. Sales channel conflict may arise at this point, so Ms. Gombert suggested having programmatic dollars count towards overall sales quotas as one way to avoid the ire of direct sales people. "Most publishers create some degree of double compensation," the IAB paper stated, "ensuring both programmatic seller and account executive are appropriately incentivized." The extra money might well be worth the sales team harmony.

3. Turn your programmatic sellers into internal consultants.

After a publisher sets up a team that really knows programmatic, it can have that core help the whole sales team build a strategy that hits the entire funnel. A premium brand advertiser, for instance, might be ripe for a retargeting pitch, a nuance a direct sales team might miss but a programmatic team likely wouldn't. Ms. Gombert said her team at Condé Nast now calls on advertisers such as ecommerce companies and second-tier auto sellers which perhaps were not a priority before. "It's kind of fun to bring in extra budget," she said, calling the programmatic and direct combination a full-service solution.

4. Get your direct sales team selling programmatic.

Ms. Gombert offered a possible fourth step outside the context of the IAB report: moving direct sales into programmatic systems. "The next iteration is figuring out what it means to bring direct and indirect sales into one world," she said. As more and more dollars are spent programmatically, and advertisers look to apply their own algorithms to ad buys, the day where a chunk direct sales are transacted through programmatic platforms may not be far away.

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