This feature has been written in partnership with Smartico. Hear more in the Media Briefs episode with its CEO Christian Scherbel, discussing why small- and medium-sized businesses joining the digital advertising ecosystem is a boon for publishers.

SMBs (small- and medium-sized businesses) have historically made up a huge proportion of the overall advertising ecosystem, the connective tissue between a local business, a regional newspaper and the local population. However, when it comes to digital advertising, scale has been seen as the end goal.

As such, many of those SMBs have been left behind in the rush to cater to the very biggest businesses – and a vital source of advertising revenue for publishers has been neglected.

Smartico is an adtech and CRM tech provider with a particular focus on re-establishing that connection. Its CEO Christian Scherbel explains that the problem began when print-centric titles began talking to their existing SMB clients about digital advertising: “Compared to print, the small advertisers then even decided to make smaller budgets than they were doing in print. So a small print customer that was investing £500 in print [only wanted] to start for £100 or £200 in online.”

He believes that the overall digital advertising ecosystem, specifically programmatic advertising and buying-at-scale enabled by platforms like Google, then drove “very low CPMs” as a consequence of being geared at larger key clients, which exacerbated the issue: “Because often, they were just told by Google, it’s just a click that counts”.

But how, then, to bring SMBs into an ecosystem that is inimical to them?

Better targets

Scherbel believes that SMBs need to be better informed about the criteria for success when it comes to digital advertising. Instead of chasing that indiscriminate scale, he believes SMBs should be prioritising metrics that deliver tangible value back to the brand. He says: “A lot of advertisers or small advertisers got products in the past that created very few clicks, because click rates for display ads were not that good. And it’s not the click rate, but rather attention time” on landing pages that matter most for SMBs.

As an example of how reframing what success in digital advertising looks like, Scherbel cites the work Smartico undertook on behalf of German media company Schwäbisch Media. Its flagship title is Schwäbische Zeitung, which has a total of 19 local editions – each of which has the opportunity to speak to local audiences on behalf of SMBs.

As a result of changing the priority from clicks to time spent on landing pages, the publisher achieved a non-incidental uplift in revenue from SMBs: Schwäbisch Media achieves up to 400 “Smart Ads” per month for schwä alone. With an average offer price of €59, this amounts to additional revenue of more than €300,000 per year.

Scherbel also points out that a focus on a time spent metric demonstrates the strength of a newspaper in an increasingly social media focused world: “We are, as publishers, so much better than social media here. There are statistics out there that prove that [ads] have less than one second of viewable time of a standard banner in social media. On the publisher sites, it’s more than five seconds”.

Ease of use

However, SMBs are also far more resource-strapped than bigger advertisers. Very frequently they will not have a dedicated team or even individual responsible for the creation of assets for use in advertising. Given that good creative has been shown to be the single most important attribute of a successful ad, that means SMBs are entering the space with a significant disadvantage.

Scherbel explains: “Lots of local advertisers, or small advertisers, use this as an excuse to say, ‘Oh, yes, I would love to do a digital banner. But currently, I’m relaunching my website. Currently, my agency or my nephew is doing the new banner, I’ll talk to you in six months’. And then those six months never happen.”

As a result, part of Smartico’s pitch to SMBs is that it can alleviate the resource-intensive process on their behalf.

Using their existing assets – whether that be from a brochure, a website, or social posts – Smartico creates a relevant banner and landing page for each company. Scherbel notes that is a “huge, huge” part of the company’s sales pitch, as it lightens the load of the advertiser in a very immediate, tangible way.

It speaks to Smartico’s desire to keep the process simple on behalf of its clients: “ Our idea is, how can we keep the big key account campaigns, perhaps have a few programmatic campaigns at the end, but in the middle, we can get very good CPMs from the small advertisers if we have a simple sales model.”

Tech and contextual advertising

Scherbel explains that Smartico is investing in its own technological capabilities in order to take advantage of AI’s ability to iterate on ads and ideas very quickly. “So where we work extremely hard is making those banner ads and landing pages even better. So can we find even better materials? Can we create images for an advertiser that he or she didn’t have before? Can we find more materials online? Can we build a better ‘about us’ text? Can we build a better call to action?”

However, he also notes that the process is not entirely automated, but is instead predicated on the human expertise that directs it. Describing it as a ‘co-pilot’, Scherbel says that the combination of human and AI allows the team to focus on both the banner ad itself and its deployment.

The magic, then, comes from a combination of Smartico’s ‘Smart Ads’ and the publishers’ position within the community. Scherbel says: “Contextual targeting is a big thing for us, especially now with third party cookies disappearing, and which I also think there’s a big chance or opportunity for publishers, once again, because we have all this context.”

As a result, Smartico sees its role as effectively smoothing the path for publishers and SMBs to connect and boost one another’s businesses. Scherbel says that with “local, long tail advertisers, it needs to be automatic sales because you can bundle it, you can have very simple telesales models.”

So, for publishers looking to re-engage with SMBs to buoy their digital advertising revenue, the message from Smartico is that simplicity – of metrics, of processes, and of communications – is paramount.

This Media Briefs episode is sponsored by Smartico, enabling more than 500 publishers worldwide to access the untapped revenue potential in digital display advertising for small and medium sized businesses.

Combining the power of AI with human creativity, Smartico’s Smart Ads Solution builds high-impact ads from existing advertiser content. Using just a URL, print ad or social media post Smartico will create engaging ads including built-in instant landing pages for your advertisers.

Learn more about how Smartico can help grow SMB advertising revenues on their website or email Christian to request a free demo.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *