It’s been a year and a half since the LasVegas Review-Journal partnered with Orlando-based diDNA in an effort to optimize its ad inventory and increase monetization of its digital content. The publisher is using diDNA’s software to manage programmatic advertising and drive revenue from remnant digital ad space.

In addition to programmatic advertising, the diDNA platform combines predictive modeling, machine learning and automation to help publishers optimize ad yield. Besides its flagship paper, the Review-Journal deployed the platform across sister publications, including the Pahrump Valley Times, Boulder City Review, El Tiempo, Luxury Las Vegas and NevadaPreps.com.

“For us, this was an efficiency play,” Belinda Englman, vice president of digital for the Review-Journal, told News & Tech. “In the past year to 18 months we’ve had a significant increase in our numbers in programmatic — for some of our publications, it’s doubled.”

Englman said diDNA’s products have allowed the Review-Journal to truly automate these processes.

“Every two weeks we have a phone meeting that involves a couple of web developers and they also sharereportsandopportunitiesforimprovementand optimization,” she said. “Occasionally we get code to implement on our side, but that’s an easy lift.”

By automating media buying and targeting specific audiences and demographics, the Review-Journal and other publishers can increase ad impressions and therefore the CPM of their digital ad space. For the Review-Journal, the partnership has meant a large boost.

“Wehave seenasignificantincrease inourCPMrateson the remnant sideand they have helped us increaseour impressionsper page view,” Englmansaid.

More than selling ad space

According to diDNA, most of its newspaper clients are doubling and tripling their ad rate cards. DiDNA says the platform exceeds the competition by offering smarter features and tools, including those that drastically reduce the incidence of malware encounters.

“Malware and redirects are crazy, and as we come into the shopping season, publishers are always targeted,” CEO Deke Hooper told News & Tech. “In this industry, those groups are paying for the ads and injecting these things — and even though less than half of a percent of customers fall for these scams, that is still enough to justify doing this.”

The company partners with other malware identification specialists that look for trends and make modifications aimed at preemptively preventing new malware attacks.

Improving ad viewability

Hooper said diDNA’s platform assesses the entire range of revenue potential, with a focus on ad viewability.

“It’s basic logic — we want to make sure that when an ad is delivered to a user, it actually gets in front of them,” he said.

To that end, the platform uses machine learning and AI software that are constantly analyzing data to find the category an ad consumer is looking for.

“We ensure that categories and information are being set so that advertisers can actively target — because when they can, they will pay three, four, or five times more for that,” Hooper added.

He said programmatic ads for the company’s newspaper partners are in the $2-$5 range for regular programmatic ads. The company also offers a private marketplace (PMP), where it charges $3 and up.

“Our PMP allows publishers to pass along a lot more info to the advertiser on demographics,” Hooper said. “For example, you can say, ‘I want to sell these outdoor chairs to parents with kids that play soccer’ — we can get that granular.”

The Review-Journal does a large amount of direct sales, which net the most revenue, and diDNA’s PMP blends regular programmatic ads with those direct offerings.

Beyond the web

As readers change the way they consume news and ads, they’re demanding more video. Besides traditional digital ad space, diDNA enables publishers to monetize content on streaming platforms, including Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire. Although the Review-Journal isn’t heavily immersed in this feature, Englman said it is an area of interest and that the publisher is selling some ad space across its Roku andAmazon Fire channels.

“We run any video we produce in the newsroom on those channels, but they’re still relatively small for us,” Englman said.

Overall, Hooper said the diDNA platform is allowing newspapers to compete for ad space in a way they haven’t before and to mitigate some of the losses they’ve seen on traditional advertising channels.

“Newspapers need to use the force of one to drive the others, and the Review-Journal does a great job with these mixed-media type of campaigns,” Hooper said. “And all publications need this if they want to stay relevant.”

Besides the Review-Journal, diDNA said it has partnered with more than 50 other regional publishing sites.

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