The demise of Mode Media is a sad one for its staff and publisher's. Its story will be turned into a narrative that the wider tech industry will find salacious. BusinessInsider& Mediapost already have very readable accounts.
Whilst its Shakespearean tale of trouble at the top may be enthralling to the tech community, what can everyday publishers who are the life blood of the industry learn from the debacle?
Diversify your demand. I know it’s tempting to say yes when an ad network comes knocking, offering to do it all for you and promising that you’ll have more time to go off and concentrate on making more content. Instead say ‘’thanks but no thanks Mr Middleman, that would be taking a huge risk’’. Fact is you’re running a business, and part of that is understanding how advertisers value your content, not relying on one go-between.
Net120 (120 days until they pay out) terms is a big warning, hell even net90 is borderline. No matter how direct to the brand paying the bills you are there will always be a payment delay. There is a worrying trend by some brands to extend it further past even net120. Whether you're working with an SSP or directly with DSPs & agencies, they should shoulder some of the risk for you.
Offset the risk, if you do have to accept long payment terms, then consider what some Mode publishers did and take a 5% charge to get it down to net30.
Engage with the Adops communities, either on Reddit / Slack / IRC or Facebook groups. These are the people on the ground floor making things happen, they are the first to see issues arise, and call out press statements as BS.
- Be careful of companies that can’t do video & mobile. This is fast becoming the barometer for identifying companies that will be around in the next few years. It’s 2016 and any company still only successful in display will struggle. The adtech market is in consolidation mode and some of the old guard, whether large or small, who may have paved the way for the new, won’t be around in 2 years - especially if they haven’t diversified.