Last month CafeMedia reached 91 million unique monthly US visitors and took the #23 spot on comScore’s top 100 list – quite an impressive feat! We spoke with Paul Bannister, EVP, Strategy at CafeMedia about CafeMedia’s unique inventory as well as what’s next for CafeMedia in programmatic.

1. What does CafeMedia do as a great content leader?
At CafeMedia, it’s important for us to specialize and to pick verticals and content categories very carefully. We tailor our content to our audience in those specific formats. We don’t try to be a jack of all trades. Instead, we’re hyperfocused on what we can be great at and spaces where we’re among the best.

CafeMedia been around for 10 years. For the first five years, we were just CafeMom. Then we launched MamasLatinas to reach the Latina market in the mom space. Two years ago we broadened our coverage to younger women in the 18 to 34 age group – and we focused on topics that that they cared about. It’s important to pick places where we can say something unique that’s new and special in the marketplace. We’re committed to creating great content that we’re not seeing elsewhere.

Now as we’ve branched out to representing ad inventory for 1000+ premium blogs with our AdThrive acquisition, we’re equally as focused on the quality of the sites that we work with on that front.

2. As an advanced publisher, how does CafeMedia think about programmatic?
We’re channel agnostic – we want to help buyers spend the budget they need in order to execute their campaign. We are able to work closely with buyers to accommodate whichever tactics they prefer that will ultimately achieve their goals.

To us, buying programmatically is as good as buying direct. We can serve a buyer just as well with programmatic. We are simultaneously programmatic-first and direct-first. We think both channels are equally great. For us programmatic is not remnant.

3. Talk to us about your targeting capabilities.
We have very strong Parenting and New Mom verticals. On the network side we focus on food. We’re one of the biggest food pubs – #3 on comScore. We’re able to collect a tremendous amount of granular data. For example, we can target recipes that include mayonnaise, we can target quick and easy meals, and other similar kinds of parameters – we can truly target to a very detailed level. We listen to our customers and the market, and then we build data around what they need. While we do have standard demographic information, we try to be a lot more focused on specialized data around topics we’re experts in.

OpenX helps us prioritize our time and strategic objectives. These high-level discussions lead to the best performance for buyers, which is the most important thing at the end of the day.

Paul BannisterEVP, Strategy at CafeMedia

4. How important is the partnership with your exchange partners?
It’s very important, and we look for partnerships that prioritize three things: quality of inventory, data access, and performance.

We have a tiered setup to header bidders – and our tier 1 partners are bidders and exchanges that are strategic partners, where we really invest in the relationship and work on solutions to tackle industry challenges together.

OpenX is a tier 1 partner, and they’ve done a great job investing in our relationship. We spend a lot of time on performance, curating strong inventory, and new capabilities we’re activating on. OpenX helps us prioritize our time and strategic objectives. These high-level discussions lead to the best performance for buyers, which is the most important thing at the end of the day.

5. What’s next for CafeMedia, and what can buyers expect in 2017?
Data is a big focus for the year so it’s no surprise that we’re bringing on more and more data. More importantly, we’re bringing on intent data from consumers. For example, for our food audience, we’re getting answers from consumers who may be at the grocery store and are asking “What am I looking to cook?” We are pulling that data together to use it to help our buyers.

For Home and DIY, in which we’re the #2 comScore publisher and we’re looking at similar consumer intent data. For example, “I’m redecorating my living room or painting my bathroom.” We’re finding different angles there and pulling the data to help buyers get smarter.

The other big thing coming up for us is video. We already have significant video inventory, and we’re committed to bringing it online in smart ways in endemic environments. Quality pre-roll is a priority for us in 2017.