Introducing our moderator for the Sports Publisher Summit: Snack Media’s Tom Jones

Everyone involved in publishing, advertising and website monetisation recognises that there are numerous industry challenges, including a potential shift in the way the industry fundamentally functions. Digital Sport’s Sport Publisher Summit on Monday 28th October will look to industry experts to help explain how they are dealing with these new challenges, what the solutions will be, to evaluate where the industry heading in the longer term and, also, to explain how its applying its technology to the business of sports sponsorship.

Digital Sport is delighted to announce that Tom Jones, Head of Digital Operations at Snack Media, will be one of our panellists. We had the pleasure of speaking with him ahead of the event about his role at the company, how his day-to-day work continues to change after 18 months of GDPR adoption and Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention that are impacting publishers and advertisers at the moment.

Before understanding his own personal role, Tom told us all about Snack and the work they do with websites they manage and those they own as well.

He said: “The main role of operations team, which I head up, is to monetise content effectively.

“Snack Media’s inventory can be split into two. You have our owned and operated websites, which include: FootballFanCast.com, FootballTransferTavern.com and FootballLeagueWorld.co.uk, and we have our network of websites. They range from properties like NFL.com, to RugbyPass.com, sites predominantly in the sporting sector that we have direct relationships with.

“Our role as an operations team is to ensure that all the sites are set up as optimally as they can be for revenue generation purposes and to ensure that any campaigns that we get from the sales team perform well and complement the programmatic demand that we have in place.”

Tom then gave a little more detail into how they work with their clients, and what exactly it is Snack Media are trying to improve for their publishing partners and advertising clients.

“All the sites are tagged up and managed centrally using our bespoke tech. Whether we’re running an MPU, outstream video, in-image tag or other format, we work with our publishers to implement an advertising set up that’s right for them.

“As well as working closely with our publishers, we have very strong relationships with vendors and advertisers. When our sales team have campaigns to traffic, our focus is on delivering the best results we can for advertisers,” Tom explained.

“So, we look at their campaign KPI’s, which are usually a combination of ad unit viewability, click-through rate, user engagement and product awareness, and try to make sure they deliver as well as they can across our inventory. If we’re running a skin on FootballFanCast.com that is really engaging and delivers a really high CTR, we would want to deliver as many impressions on it as we can while still reaching a large volume of unique users.”

Tom explained that the biz-dev team at Snack Media will handle the relationships with publishers, while his team will do all the work on setting up the ad unit and campaigns. This means they may recommend that a publisher put a sticky DMPU in the sidebar of a site’s desktop template, who they will then work with to get the ads in place, pushing demand through those positions.

He continued saying: “We work with many of the people who are on the panel for this upcoming event. Natasha from Rubicon, Louise from GumGum, Teads as well. Essentially, we highlight our websites and their inventory to those demand partners and look to plug in demand from the advertising relationships they have alongside the other demand we’ve sourced.”

Having understood in much greater detail the role of Snack Media with their customers, Tom told us a bit more about his personal role at work: “What you try and do is impart the knowledge that you’ve picked up over the years and also try and move the company forward in key areas.

“The way that you used to monetise a website 12 months ago is not fully applicable now. And while some elements will be the same, it’s a quickly evolving industry. It’s about staying up-to-date with the latest trends, such as ITP and previously viewability, and making sure we can put in as many solutions as we can to combat the challenges that are thrown at publishers on a daily basis.”

Tom has faced plenty of challenges, especially in the last 12-18 months, but he anticipates more will be on the way as the industry continues to adapt to the constant changes.

“I think for publishers, especially for a publisher network like ourselves, it’s been a challenging 12-18 months. A lot of industry initiatives come with good intent, but the problems the publisher themselves will face are not always anticipated. 

“With Ads.txt for example, I completely see what it’s trying to achieve. However, when we’re a network that looks after 400 websites, we might work with 30 vendors, and they might update their ads.txt a couple of times a quarter; you can see the amount of work involved in this one area. It’s more straightforward if you are a one-site publisher and you only have to update the one file, but when you’re looking after so many, it’s a challenge in itself.

“But then some of the bigger challenges are obviously around GDPR. It’s been in place for 18 months and it’s only going to get more stringent next year, undoubtedly raising challenges when the consent rate goes down from 90%+ to less 60%. Then you have the development around cookies and Safari’s ITP that blocks advertiser tracking. It’s in theory great for the user, but it certainly isn’t great for advertiser. From a publisher perspective, the yields on Safari are maybe 50% of those on Chrome, so that’s another big challenge to try and overcome.”

You can hear Tom, alongside other industry experts, discuss the future of the monetisation of publisher content at Digital Sport’s Sport Publisher Summit on the 28th. For more information on the upcoming event, click here, or purchase a ticket below.

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