by Mark Thielen | Oct 17, 2012
If you haven’t already, be sure to read What publishers should ask from an inventory forecasting system – Part 1 first as this is a continuation of that post.
3. Look for a system that handles complex forecasting requests in real-time
Having a strong, reliable database to improve forecast accuracy is one side of the coin, but retrieving this data instantly is the other. Just picture the media buyer calling you on a Monday morning, asking you for specific inventory on your network. If you want to make this buyer happy, give him the information instantly.
Given the complexity of data processing involved in forecasting, it quickly becomes clear that a lot of firepower is needed to handle such a CPU and data intensive endeavor. While there are a lot of great forecasting systems on the market, some of them lack the capability to handle massive amounts of data. This means they have problems in calling up the data the moment it‘s needed, especially when the volume of data is increasing. In the end this boils down to unhappy customers who don’t like to be pushed into an endless queue with no early answer on the horizon.
To remain competitive in the future, companies that offer forecasting systems for ad inventory will need scalable solutions to produce immediate forecasting results, systems that can juggle enormous amounts of bits and bytes and are not brought to their knees when having to process every single piece of information of millions of ad requests and their combinations.
4. Don’t be satisfied with a pure forecasting tool – instead reach for a complete inventory management solution
Many of the existing forecasting tools on the market give publishers a good insight into their inventory. However, most of them only focus on impressions capacity based on predictions of tomorrow’s traffic without taking into account actual availabilities. This means they don’t consider impressions already booked by overlapping active or reserved campaigns.
Digital ad inventory is a complex, dynamic environment which undergoes constant changes. Campaigns are booked with different priorities, so newly booked campaigns might influence the delivery of active campaigns. The market’s demand to target highly complex audiences results in campaigns with complex targeting clusters that impact inventory availability.
Now picture profitable campaign management as a constant fight against under- and over-deliveries – a fight that can only be won with a smart system that helps you keep track of what is sold and what is still available. The impact of a newly booked campaign or a campaign set to a reserved state needs to be taken into consideration instantly in the forecast. This can only be achieved with a powerful reservation engine attached.
A good inventory management system not only gives you a forecast on future availability based on recent campaigns and traffic patterns, it also constantly recalculates the available inventory under consideration of active campaigns while simultaneously taking into account campaign priorities, targeting criteria and actual delivery tendencies. The combination of forecasting tool and reservation engine is what I believe to be the best solution to fulfill a publisher’s inventory management needs.
5. Find a solution that enables you to sell your ad inventory in brand-new ways
A lot of publishers have their fixed set of products they sell to advertisers. However, the focus on a limited set of products doesn’t allow them to max out the full potential of their ad space. If they had a forecasting and reservation system that gave them the possibility to check available impressions in real-time against specific criteria, keys and/or audiences, they would be able to create ad hoc products to satisfy specific client needs. This flexibility in creating and selling products the moment they are talking to a media buyer on the phone opens up the possibility of new profitable revenue streams to publishers.
Since a lot of revenue is tied to knowing your available inventory, the decision for the right forecasting and reservation system is highly critical to business. Only a system which helps you look at your inventory in brand-new ways and gives you answers to availability requests in real-time without any limitations whatsoever will give you enough options to successfully monetize your site or network.
It’s worth rethinking your present product and sales strategy along with choosing the right forecasting solution. New developments in technology now give you options in creating products on the fly that otherwise might never have crossed your mind. Embrace these new opportunities and your customers will thank you.
With all this in mind, I came to realize that the forecasting capabilities of our present inventory management system integrated in ADTECH’s ad serving platform are great, but could be far greater. We did our homework and are close to launching a brand-new inventory management system which gives publishers a level of control over their inventory never seen before. It’s in beta. Reach out to me if you want to test it and let me know what you think.