Beyond DSM: What's More Comfortable Than Your Comfort Zone?

by Doug Huntington


If you’re a client of DoubleClick Sales Manager, surely you’re aware of Google’s plans to put DSM to bed. As the company told clients in a memo earlier in the summer, Google was ceasing development on DSM immediately, and planned to retire it for good in July 2019.

Judging from what we’ve seen in the ad trades and in online forums, it looks like a lot of folks who’d be affected by the deprecation aren’t aware of very much beyond that. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what publishers are supposed to do without DSM. And frankly, there’s plenty of fear of the unknown.

The fear is understandable. DSM has held onto about half of the market for sales management services over the course of 10 years. It offered a convenient solution for anyone using DFP for an ad server. With DSM gone, publishers will be looking at new vendors, new integrations—as if they didn’t have enough partners to manage.

But the fear is also unwarranted. DSM got by, and assuredly earned its share of the market, from its familiarity and proximity to DFP. It was fine for getting the order into the ad server. But it was never the most customizable sales management tool out there, nor the most robust. Let’s get over the fear right away. DSM clients have less than two years to make the jump to another tech provider, and what they’re jumping toward is likely to be better than what they had.

Google had launched DSM in the first place because it was already operating an ad server. It’s sunsetting DSM in part because every publisher has a different set of needs, and Google wasn’t interested in customizing. Meanwhile, there are tech providers out on the marketplace whose forte really is complexity. A lot of publishers haven’t really been aware of the kind of customization and attention to detail they could get from a sales management partner. They never needed to reach out and explore beyond their comfort zone with DSM. Now that they do need to reach out, they’re about to discover that the other options available are in reality a lot more comfortable.

Let’s not give Google too hard of a time here. Getting the order in the ad server seamlessly is crucial. But DSM was mainly focused on ad trafficking, and publishers ought to expect and demand more of a sales management provider. More to the point, publishers have an opportunity now to think beyond simple sales or order management, and think in terms of revenue management.

The revenue management process brings together sales enablement, yield management and workflow automation in a single platform.  Extending beyond order management, revenue management helps publishers drive advertising revenue and optimize the value of their inventory through direct and automated channels, simply and efficiently.

Current DSM publishers can look forward to a brighter future for sales, order and overall revenue management than what Google has offered them. And really, they should start moving toward it as soon as possible. It can seem easy enough to keep trundling along until Google pulls the plug on DSM, but two years passes very quickly in the business world. Push it off to next quarter? Good luck—DSM has only eight quarters of life left. Before you find yourself at the absolute end of the DSM line, start conversations with sales management vendors now.

Devote time and thought to these conversations, because choosing a sales management platform that aligns with your individual needs should not be a hasty decision. Google’s memo to DSM clients recommended a few such vendors by name, citing them as working well with DFP. Google’s endorsement aside, a relatively small number of vendors have been in the market long enough to accumulate the features necessary to serve a wide variety of publishers. Expect that the most reputable and mature sales management vendors will have a substantial influx of projects to fulfill. In your conversations with these vendors, think about how their tools can benefit your overall business, not just your ability to traffic ads. Chances are you’ll find a solution that suits your current needs, and that can work with you going forward to customize their offering for your evolving needs.

It may look like an inconvenience right now, but Google is doing publishers a service by sunsetting DSM. There’s no reason to fear taking the leap into the unknown—there’s a lot there that’s worth knowing.

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