Since the House voted 24-10 in favor of the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019, or H.R. 3884, federally legal cannabis in the United States may become a reality sooner than many thought. In response, advertising demand for cannabis and CBD brands is heating up, making publications that reach exclusive endemic audiences very hot commodities.

Although it can be exciting to be approached by new buyers and platforms looking to “partner,” don’t act too hastily. As an endemic publication, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you sign away your bargaining potential or give away your audience data too fast, ultimately decreasing your property’s value in the long-term.

Publishers: Avoid These Common Missteps & Short-Sighted Deals

Although partnerships can lead to more revenue in the short-term, there are potential downsides worth considering before you open your doors to more ad tech partners. The reality is, due to the traditional (and outdated) business models other platforms are built on, they are doing what works best for them and not what is most beneficial to you as a publisher.

To see why this is the case, let’s take a look at some of the inbound emails you may receive from competitors (a term we use loosely). For each example, allow us to quickly outline how partnering with the wrong party may negatively impact your property.

Example 1: “DSP/Agency X is offering me a PMP deal…”

DSPs who offer to provide you with a private marketplace (PMP) deal simply want to use their existing tools and connections for accessing your inventory, with no regard to the value you are getting on the other end. Most of the time, publications are far too small to have a direct relationship with any of the partners of the DSP/agency, and therefore you are losing a large chunk of that ad spend to exchange fees, data management platform (DMP) fees, and supply-side platform (SSP) fees.

When you’re approached by a DSP or agency looking to run a PMP deal, we recommend you simply say, ‘Go speak with Mantis.’

Instead, when you’re approached by a DSP or agency looking to run a PMP deal, we recommend you simply say, “Go speak with Mantis.” Why? Because, your response signifies that you are not OK getting a small chunk of an otherwise much larger ad budget.

For example, let’s assume that Agency X is offering you a PMP deal with a $10,000 budget. Sounds like a great deal, right? Not so fast. What if we told you that the brand actually had a budget closer to $20,000, but you only see a $10,000 budget because the fees from their platform + partners were extracted before they sent the intro email to you.

By sending DSP / Agency X to Mantis, they are forced to integrate into a platform with 0% fees on ad spend, ensuring you get 100% of their actual budget. Both you and the brand advertising wins in this scenario; only the middlemen downstream lose out on potential revenue (e.g., DMPs, Exchanges, SSPs, etc.).

Not only will the buyer who uses our in-house demand side platform (DSP) product receive access to the advanced UI, tooling, and features available to all Mantis account holders, but they will also get the most value for their ad dollars without any detriment to you (i.e., they pay a nominal flat monthly rate to access our buy-side platform and 100% of their ad-spend goes directly to you, the publisher). No other ad-tech ecosystem can offer this win-win solution to both buyers and sellers today.

Example 2: “Advertiser Y is wanting to work directly with me…”

We certainly encourage all publishers to supplement revenue with direct initiatives (tip: use our free ad server to keep 100% of direct ad revenue and list your direct offers for sale via our direct marketplace). However, when it comes to programmatic, you have little to gain going at it alone. With the time it takes to review contracts, negotiate deals, collect payments, receive advertiser artwork/creatives, and provide performance reports to clients on an ongoing basis, you’re better off outsourcing the entire direct sales process to a 0% fee platform like Mantis.

This is especially true if the buyer is sophisticated and/or has hyper local targeting requirements that you cannot fulfill on your own. For example, let’s assume that Advertiser Y has a $10,000/monthly budget but is only interested in targeting the Spokane, Washington area with a 1 mile radius from a specific set of zip codes. In this very real example, most individual publications would likely not be able to meet the client’s needs without charging an incredibly high (and unreasonable) CPM or fixed price. If you find yourself in a similar situation, you can either:

  1. Overcharge the client and burn a long-term relationship with them.
  2. Turn this deal away entirely and lose out on the potential revenue.
  3. Forward them to Mantis to place a buy on your property (and other similar properties) at no cost to you, thus giving you access to an increased pool of advertisers who are willing to bid against one another (boosting your overall earning potential); plus, by helping the the advertiser hit their spend goals, you increase your chances of working with that advertiser in the long-term.

Further, regardless of the offer, most advertisers are going to opt to diversify their ad spend across multiple publications to “test the field.” Thus, directing leads to a single platform that allows them to manage multiple direct campaigns (with your property + other properties), reduces friction in your sales cycle and costs you nothing. Some other benefits of having Mantis manage direct deals for your digital property include:

  • Buyers using Mantis get real-time access to a self-service reporting dashboard with performance monitoring, with the ability to suggest changes to their campaign settings (e.g., targeting, creatives).
  • Mantis handles any support related questions regarding traffic, performance or campaign configuration. You save the cost/overhead of an in-house ad-op, sales and support team — no more back & forth emails.
  • Click here to learn more about managing your property’s in-house (direct) ad campaigns using Mantis’ free ad server.

Example 3: “Platform Z says I can partner with them to make money on data…”

Content is king. Compelling articles and audience data are YOUR leverage as a digital publisher.

Mixing an ecosystem like Mantis, with a third-party (such as a DMP or any data-aggregation company), ultimately hurts your earning potential in the long run. Because we work hard to negotiate the best-value on behalf of all of our pubs, we can control when your data is used, how much of a premium it can command, and ensure your direct/programmatic channel is balanced using data.

As an example, if Platform Z offers to drop a pixel on your website to track your visitors and pay you whenever the data is used for an ad campaign (or even a flat monthly cost), Mantis is out of the loop and cannot control what those third-parties do with that data. You’re effectively shooting yourself in the foot and bleeding out slowly by doing this. This is because we ensure that all buyers on Mantis bid with price floors (due to the unique value of your audience). Allowing a third-party to effectively sell that audience at any cost, undercuts your ability to earn more from increased demand due to scarcity.

One could debate that another platform who plays in the traditional ad-tech sandbox may be able to offer larger scale/demand than Mantis (thus possibly paying you more, even though the eCPM rates they payout are much lower), but one could also argue that it becomes a race to the bottom by devaluing your inventory.

Mantis Is Your Leverage & Long-Term Partner

In a bloated ad-tech ecosystem where digital campaigns are spending billions every year, individual publications have little to no negotiating power when working with incumbent platforms. Participating in the Mantis ecosystem is not merely a decision involving revenue — it represents much more. Your continued support helps enable the world’s most respected cannabis publications to speak with an amplified voice and unified message.

By pooling together our resources on both the buy-side and sell-side, we’re able to aggregate advertising demand through a single channel and drive up revenue for our publishing partners through systems like real-time bidding, which ultimately leads to increased CPM rates given the scarcity of endemic inventory.

This pooling of niche publications allows us to negotiate partnerships with traditional ad-tech companies for very good rates; which in return, allows your property to earn more with features like audience extension, without any of the traditional costs.

Without this aggregation of ad spend, big brands and agencies are less likely to work with anyone in the cannabis industry due to weak spend potential.

The Takeaway

If you’re looking to monetize your digital publication, we ask that you join us on our mission of creating a more transparent, fair, and low-cost ad tech solution than what exists today.

Our goal is to continue building out a powerful ecosystem that not only demands attention, but ultimately delivers the value everyone deserves for supporting this growing industry. With Mantis as your long-term partner and tech stack, you’ll be able to say goodbye to the dreadful and expensive ad tech tax and say hello to complete supply path optimization (SPO).

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