About the Series

Welcome to the Ad Ops Build vs. Outsource Series. In this series, we’ve tapped the expertise of our team, each of which has years of industry experience building out just the teams you’d be considering.

In today’s entry in the series, we rely on the expertise of Anthony Alexander, our Global VP of Sales. He has over 10 years of experience on direct sales teams and has been instrumental in building and managing Playwire’s global direct sales team, which spans 15 different countries. If anyone can tell you what you’ll need to know to build out a killer direct sales team, it’s him!

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Are You Ready for Direct Selling?

Direct ad sales are lucrative. There’s no denying it. Compared to programmatic ad sales, direct buys tend to generate higher engagement rates and much higher cost per mille (CPM) rates.

There’s a solid chance that you already know that, and it’s probably a big part of why you’re wondering whether it’s time to build out your very own direct sales team. This is an exciting position to be in as a publisher, but choose your next steps wisely. 

Building an entire sales team is not the only way to generate revenue from direct sales. You can also get the benefits of direct sales by working with monetization partners like Playwire — one that has a global direct sales team ready to go to work for you.

In this post, we give you some questions to ask yourself as you try to decide how you’re going to start bringing in that direct sales business. Ask yourself all of the questions below to land on the right answer for your website or app.

Playwire blends the high CPMs of global direct sales with the consistent revenue and broad demand of programmatic. In other words, we’re the best of both worlds. Contact us to learn more about how we can grow your revenue.

Should You Build a Direct Sales Team or Integrate One?

So, between building your own team of direct sales representatives or working with Playwire’s, which is better? Obviously, we think we offer the best solution when it comes to working with a direct sales company, but to be fair, not everyone will immediately know that. And we can’t possibly be the absolute best solution for every publisher out there.

But these are your options if you want direct sales: build your own team or integrate an existing one from a partner like Playwire. We will cover more of the “do it yourself” style steps under the questions below, but with Playwire, there’s only one step to cover: sign up. 

Already, that simplifies the process. But is simple all you’re looking for? Of course not — you want maximum direct ad sales revenue, too. Really, the revenue question is easy to answer when you look at the total cost of building your own direct sales team vs. working with Playwire. 

With Playwire, you aren’t charged a cent for direct sales until we bring you a deal. But if you build the team yourself, you have to invest a lot more money into actually setting up the infrastructure, training, and paying base salaries before the revenue can begin rolling in.

Does Your Product Warrant Direct Sales in the First Place?

We should take a step back here to make sure direct ad sales are even a good idea for your website or app. What, exactly, are you direct selling? If your answer is “ We’re selling banners” or “video ads,” you’ve got a problem. That’s because those are the answers of hundreds of thousands of other publishers out there.

You need to be different. What makes your inventory different and therefore worthy of direct sales when you could just as easily sell programmatically? Remember — direct sales are more expensive for advertisers. Why should they care about your inventory enough to buy it directly?

To create a sufficient answer to those questions, you have to truly understand what makes your brand, audience, and inventory different. If you already feel that you do understand that, then you’re in a good place. But if, like most publishers, you struggle to define what differentiates your product, building your own direct sales team is likely to fall flat in a big way. 

Playwire, on the other hand, routinely sits down with publishers to figure out what makes them different — which defines the direct sales strategy that will push their revenue forward. 

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Will Your Team Know How to Control the Big Deals?

Wouldn’t you just love to bag a direct buy with one of the big brands? Think Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and the like. That would be great, but would the direct sales reps on your team know how to make sure you actually get the revenue you need out of that deal?

Managing custom integrations can be a cumbersome task, and there are a lot of moving parts within the sales process to make sure a directly sold campaign is successful. We’ve seen plenty of brands that have technical controls in place that can prevent revenue from flowing to your site. They have huge lists of blocked keywords and blacklisted types of websites. Imagine you’re a mobile game, and you’re working with one of these big brands thanks to your direct sales team. But the campaign isn’t delivering, and there’s no revenue coming out of the deal. 

It happens all the time, and in the example above, it would likely be because many big brands block keywords related to gaming, such as “shooter,” “blood” and “kill.” Those words are kind of a big deal in the gaming space, but if your site or app is associated with them, you may struggle to derive revenue from bigger direct buys.

Will your DIY direct sales team know how to combat that? Many won’t — especially if you haven’t told them how to. But at Playwire, we do this all the time. We work with the big brands we make direct sales to in order to make sure they don’t block keywords specific to our publishers’ sites or apps. We have an entire ad ops team dedicated to ensuring our publishers get the revenue they deserve.

Can You Build a Sales Team with a Healthy Culture?

On a sales team, culture is everything. But as a publisher, you may not fully understand what kinds of team culture will actually motivate your sales force. Don’t make the mistake of believing that it’s always all about money. It often is about money, but some people are motivated by more intangible goals, being able to take clients to dinner or even simple praise. Will you have the knowledge, time, and resources to build a healthy culture on your DIY sales team?

The last thing you want is to put in all the work of building a direct ad sales team and then suffer from high turnover or maybe even an employment lawsuit. With Playwire, you don’t have to worry about that. Our direct sales team works hard for you, but we don’t work directly for you. We just bring you the revenue — someone else manages us and makes sure we’re always happy and motivated.

How Will You Pay Your Direct Sales Team?

It’s simply not feasible for most small and medium-sized publishers to go out and poach some Google, YouTube, or Facebook sales veteran. They’re too expensive. But even if you could afford that, it might not be a good idea. To grow, you need to attract salespeople who are scrappy and know how to sell — not someone who has just been collecting huge insertion order buys for a decade.

How, then, should you attract them? Your sales compensation plan will be a huge part of that. And there are plenty of ways to structure it, but at the end of the day, you’re not likely to get away without offering a base salary, commission, and benefits. That cuts directly into your bottom line and reduces the revenue-growing power of direct sales.

The alternative, which you already know we’re going to say is Playwire, doesn’t cost you anything until we bring you a deal. That way, your revenue can only go up — no fancy accounting work required.

Playwire: All the Benefits of Scale, None of the Headaches

Because Playwire can group audiences across our entire network of publisher sites, suddenly very large and differentiated audience groups emerge, which is highly desired by advertisers looking for direct deals, suddenly making direct dollars available to all of those publishers in the network. Essentially, Playwire affords you the benefits of scale, packaged up to work at your current size.

Alone, as a single publisher, you will have to hit a pretty hefty size to be attractive to direct advertisers, but joining Playwire gives you access to all the benefits lightyears earlier in your growth.

What’s Stopping You from Contacting Playwire?

Here’s the truth: for most publishers, building your own direct sales team is risky and incredibly daunting. Unless you’re a huge publisher with monthly traffic in the multiple tens of millions, building your own team is likely to be too expensive, too stressful, and too unfamiliar to you for you to be able to do it well. And when thousands of publishers are already out there competing with you, being unable to do direct sales perfectly means you’re likely not going to be able to make it work at all.

The good news is that there’s another option — one that’s even better than building a team yourself. It’s working with Playwire. Our global direct sales team will take the time to understand your needs, help you differentiate your offering from the competition, take the pains of sales team management off your plate and grow your revenue. 

Ready to get started? Nothing is stopping you. Just contact us online.

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