3 Ways to Buy Email Advertising Inventory

Say you’re at the grocery store. You know you want to buy apples, but – in this hypothetical case – you’re not sure how to actually purchase them. Should you go straight to the register? Or maybe use the self-checkout line? Or perhaps you should scrap the store altogether and go to a farmer’s market to buy your produce directly from the supplier?

As an advertiser, these are the kinds of questions you might be dealing with when it comes to email advertising.

You know that email advertising allows you to reach audiences directly through publishers’ newsletters. So if you’re a kitchen appliance brand that wants to reach cooking enthusiasts, you can find publishers running food-related email newsletters. And you can run ads in those newsletters, tapping into engaged and trusting reader bases.

The question is: How do you actually buy those ads? And how do you know which inventory sources will work best for your advertising needs?

ail inventory: direct-buy, curated deals, or open exchange

Well, there are three primary sources through which you can buy email ad inventory and build your newsletter outreach operation.

Let’s take a look.

Direct-buy campaigns

One can purchase newsletter inventory, of course, directly from publishers with no middleman involved. Basically, an advertiser forms a contracted agreement with a publisher to run ads in newsletter inventory for a specific timeframe or until a specified number of impressions are met.

Breaking that down further, there are two main types of direct-buy campaigns:

Guaranteed campaigns: These are exclusive deals that advertisers make with publishers, similar to sponsored content campaigns on publisher websites. These campaigns deliver guaranteed impressions, ensuring that no other advertiser will be vying for your ad slot.

Non-guaranteed campaigns: With these campaigns, you compete against other advertisers for impressions. You can optimize these campaigns to performance goals like impressions, clicks, or conversions.

Inventory bought directly from a publisher may be priced slightly higher than if you were to buy through other sources; however, it is not without its perks. Working directly with a publisher may enable advertisers to choose from a publisher’s most exclusive inventory and carefully tailor their buy. Advertisers with stringent brand safety requirements may want to consider a direct-buy campaign due to the inventory exclusivity and flexibility that only a publisher can provide.

Curated Deals

Advertisers can buy Curated Deals, which are packages of audiences or ad inventory from publishers. For example, you might buy a package that allows you to reach a publisher’s website readers and newsletter subscribers.

There are three common types of ad packages available:

Seasonal: Ad inventory for a particular season, such as back-to-school or winter holidays.

Audience-based: Access to certain audience attributes and behaviors, such as Technology Wizards and Foodies.

Content-based: Centered around content verticals, such as fashion or technology.

Curated Deals can also be created using a deal ID and targeted through our demand-side platform (DSP) partners. This way, you’re buying quality inventory from the publisher directly but targeting your campaigns programmatically through your favorite DSP, effectively increasing your reach.

Open exchange

Open exchange buys are facilitated through the advertising technology ecosystem, which includes DSPs, supply-side platforms (SSPs), and others. Everyone participates in the process of buying and selling ad inventory based on an auction system – except it all happens within fractions of a second.

Through the LiveIntent DSP, for example, advertisers can bid on email ad slots from premium publishers, with whom we’ve built direct partnerships. You can also bid on newsletter inventory through our DSP partners, including DV360, MediaMath, The Trade Desk, Verizon Media, and Xandr – enabling you to manage all your inventory from a single platform.

Pro tip: Email newsletter inventory does not accept JavaScript, so reusing web display tags in email won’t cut it. Instead, work with your DSP partner to ensure proper tag setup for your campaigns to enable ad serving in email.

If you’re looking to keep your campaign CPMs low while still achieving scale, a buy via the Open Exchange may be right for you. There’s also little to no barrier to entry, so if you’re looking to get a campaign up and running as soon as possible, the open exchange is an option you’ll want to consider.

Work with your partners

At the end of the day, it’s important that you find the supply source that works best for your business. Talk to your publisher and adtech partners about the deals and sources that are available, as well as your campaign goals, to identify your best options.