Welcome to TripleLift’s Publisher Spotlight Series. Every month we share an interview with one of our publisher partners, highlighting unique stories and uncovering valuable insights. This month, we are featuring a two-part spotlight with Freestar’s CEO, Kurt Donnell. In Part 1, Donnell offered readers an inside look at Freestar’s impressive growth, what attracted him to the company and how his team remains devoted to client satisfaction. Now, Donnell shares how the Freestar team is navigating industry challenges, what publishers should be considering when it comes to video and gives us a sneak peek at what’s ahead for the company.
From all appearances, Freestar’s publishers are thrilled to be working with you – what do you think they would say is the best part of your partnership?
A lot of companies can offer similar technology to ours, but the service and the custom solutions that we offer are truly unmatched in the industry. As much as we will continue to iterate and innovate on our tech and products, I feel that our publishers would overwhelmingly say our best feature is our team, which is very intentional. I firmly believe that if you take care of your employees and take care of your customers, a lot of other things will take care of themselves. Accordingly, we start with our employees and constantly push ourselves to give them what they need to be successful which in turn lets them better serve our clients.
As a company, we understand that we will always be a client-facing organization first and foremost, and it shows in our day-to-day internal interactions. One of our most active Slack channels (which happens to be my personal favorite) is our NPS channel where the whole company gets real-time, unfiltered feedback from our publishers when responses to our monthly NPS survey are submitted. It is always so great to see people across every team in the organization come together to celebrate and/or learn whenever we have new responses come in from publishers.
The industry faces immense change with the imminent death of the third-party cookie, Apple’s iOS 14 update, and a myriad of new state-led privacy regulations. How can publishers best prepare for these changes?
For anyone that has been in this industry over the years, we all understand the only real constant is change and that every three months or so there will be something new to address. GDPR, CCPA, and the other U.S. states to follow – and potentially federal mandates – are just one element of the change in consumer protections. Add in the third-party cookies and IDFA changes and publishers rightly have a lot to be thinking about, however we as an industry have always found ways to address changes and challenges, and this will be no different. While I don’t know that anyone can definitively say what the solution will be to address the lack of third-party cookies, there are already so many different solutions being tested that I have no doubt there will be viable options that meet the needs of publishers and advertisers alike.
For a single publisher, who is handling all of their ad tech in-house, I’d recommend trying to test as many targeting solutions as possible in 2021 and staying up-to-date on the future of privacy and the demise of the third-party cookie through the various industry resources (such as AdExchanger, Digiday, eMarketer, AdWeek to name a few). There is also no shortage of online webinars that cover the various changes in the industry. Finally, I encourage publishers to join the conversation when possible through groups like IAB or Prebid.org.
With regard to privacy compliance, it is important for publishers to vet their Consent Management Platform (CMP) provider thoroughly and remember that you often get what you pay for. A free tool simply cannot offer you the same service as a solution you pay for. As a self-proclaimed “recovering attorney”, I would also be remiss if I didn’t suggest you seek the advice of counsel on anything you do or implement on your site that is compliance-related.
For publishers, e-commerce companies, or app developers that don’t want to go it alone, ad management companies like Freestar can often help mitigate the headaches of addressing the ever changing world of ad tech (in addition to increasing revenue!). As ad tech is all we do, targeting, compliance and all of the other nuances of our crazy industry are challenges we work to solve all day every day on behalf of our clients so they don’t have to. But I am admittedly a bit biased on this point.
In the last year, we’ve witnessed an acceleration in the demand for premium video inventory across all formats. In-app and in-feed are no exception. Are there any trends or insights that Freestar has uncovered that publishers should consider when looking to increase yield as it relates to video?
What I like to encourage publishers to do is to add video and video advertising opportunities to their site without monetization being the sole purpose behind the initiative. We always take a balanced approach with our publishers around user experience and revenue, and that is especially important with video products. Video products in the right place at the right time will not only drive better revenue, but will also keep your users coming back and consuming more content – which ultimately is what we all want for the health of the open web.
Do you have any sneak peaks of advancements that either publishers or advertisers should be looking out for in the coming months?
We are working toward offering a number of unique ad unit experiences that will be available exclusively for direct-sold and PMP deals. As we continue to grow that piece of our business, we want to ensure we offer both publishers and advertisers unique solutions that meet their needs. We also will continue to add new features and support for additional ad units and integration types to our app monetization platform that is very unique in the ad management space. Lastly, we will continue to build on our Ideal Ad Stack technology to ensure we optimize the value of every ad impression we manage for our publishers. Ultimately, we remain committed to building products that further cement Freestar as the one-stop shop for publishers, e-commerce sites, app developers and advertisers who want to optimize revenue and performance.