Shifts in the programmatic market could benefit publishers

programmatic market
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The programmatic market could be moving from an open marketplace model, where everyone transacts with one another, to a more controlled, curated, environment. Curated marketplaces are seen as opening up ‘premium’ opportunities for publishers and advertisers, improving brand safety in  in contextual environments for targeted audiences.

Precarious spot
  • According to Digiday, publishers like LaDbible can’t wait for the programmatic advertising market to shift from open to curated marketplaces. This might be surprising, as LaDbible currently makes most of its money from the open auctions.
  • The open marketplace has allowed publishers like LADbible to sell more advertising programmatically at lower cost. But, according to Digiday’s Seb Joseph, this is not necessarily sustainable given the problems in the open ecosystem. In a previous look at the market, he wrote:

The open market of programmatic inventory, where prices are decided in real-time through an auction, is in a precarious spot…  there’s a ballooning number of publisher-initiated programmatic auctions being pushed through a shrinking ad tech pipe.

  • This can lead to auction duplication and could see advertisers unknowingly bidding against themselves, driving up the price they pay. This can benefit publishers of low quality ‘made-for-advertising’ sites, but for publishers seeking to develop premium advertiser relationships, it is not a good long-term bet.
Curated solutions
  • Although open programmatic supports increased bid liquidity, Joseph says simply ‘leaving the open market taps on’ won’t increase the yield on LaDbible’s inventory. In contrast, curated marketplaces bring together publishers (sellers), advertisers (buyers) and third parties (SSPs).
  • Speaking to Digiday, head of programmatic at LADbible Group Roy Beeharry said:

Curated deals give a buyer and advertisers access to premium curated supply, with improved brand safety, targeted audiences, contextual environments and focused device types.

  • Joseph describes a developing situation where premium publishers are approached by SSPs to be automatically opted-in to particular curated marketplaces. The hope is sellers and buyers will have greater control of the supply paths they are working in.
Curated spend
  • Curated budgets are still relatively small compared to the open market. However, ad agencies are beginning to ‘cherry pick’ a limited number of SSPs to facilitate spend through curated marketplaces. Beeharry said:

What we can see from LADbible Group, is that the pipes work really well, so we anticipate more and more agencies to funnel larger budgets in the not too distant future.

  • Joseph wrote in January that there are early signs that budgets could be moving out of the open marketplace. He spotlighted Hershey’s who were said to be moving money away from open auctions to fund direct deals with publishers.
Agency control

However, Joseph also raises the concern that with the shift to curated marketplaces being driven by media agencies, they will regain control of the space lost to some extent with the rise of open programmatic.

This idea was underlined in a statement by WPP CEO Mark Read. He said:

We’ve always been of the view that much of this technology, if we embrace it properly, will help us grow, not dis-intermediate us.

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