Transparency among buyers and sellers can prevent the Google/Facebook duopoly and spur innovation.
In part 1 of this series, we outlined the three conditions that we see as necessities for the programmatic marketplace to remain in balance for years to come.
In part 2, avoiding another RTB Unicorn, we discussed how improved transparency between buyer and seller will lead to a healthier and more sustainable marketplace for sellers. In part 3, we will cover how transparency will help both sides to use tech to better effect desired outcomes and fuel innovation.
Transparency facilitates and encourages balance in use of programmatic technology.
As programmatic technology has evolved, particularly with the early focus exclusively on audience acquisition, buyers -- particularly performance buyers -- were early adopters of technology and data-driven buying (and were generally successful). Sellers, meanwhile, felt they were getting screwed. Publishers ran for the hills as the buy side cherry-picked their inventory and left the rest for dead. Buyers had learned how to leverage this new technology and data and profited. No value was placed on content or who created the audience. The data-driven “profile/segment” was all that mattered to the buyer and these performance buyers were generally happy, particularly with the last click attribution. Publishers struggled to keep up because publisher technology lagged (due to lack of investment and an unwillingness for publishers to pay for technology). As a result, publishers lacked the ability to access and leverage their own trading data to assess the true value of their users. Publishers were scared because they “didn't know” and the path ahead wasn't well lit.
Sellers now have access to affordable tech to help them make the best use of their trading data for programmatic yield management. It's in their best interest to use it and get back on equal footing. Tools to shed light on their exchange data to inform better decisioning, optimize pricing, and maximize deals with buyers are well within reach and relatively easy to use. So with the affordable tech problem out of the way, publishers have turned their attention to taking command of their trading data - this is the data about their commerce inside the exchanges as well as the trading data from other channels. Owning the analysis and interpretation of what story this data tells them each day is the new business of yield management and some publishers are getting very good at it.
Simultaneously, buyers are increasingly willing to pay higher CPMs for ‘higher’ quality inventory.
It is hoped that buyer recognition of value and publisher confidence in programmatic will deliver the dream of “the good stuff” getting placed into programmatic and continued market growth. Once publishers have ability to leverage their trading data from all their monetization channels and understand the value of their inventory-- from exchanges to the app du jour -- they will understand how to best value user attention and become more confident in the value they receive from programmatic channels. Without this understanding, publishers will struggle to keep up with monetization as buyers chase audiences across new apps, networks and sites. Today, the average seller has to manage yield across several display exchanges, a video exchange, a mobile exchange, maybe uses native content in the latest app or any number of other channels. If publishers can’t get a handle on how to best place and value inventory in this complex new reality, they will likely withhold quality inventory from programmatic channels and keep this inventory locked inside of insertion orders.
The lack of quality programmatic inventory is a serious buyer problem. The buy side has a strong preference to leverage these channels with their targeting and productivity efficiencies. The buy side is also very concerned that Google and Facebook have a duopoly on quality inventory and, as a result, pricing.
Now that the technology is here for both sides to leverage data across all of their respective buying or selling channels (remember the buy side also has similar fragmentation across a myriad of channel sources), the requisite information must flow between the two to make sure that each counter-party is delivering on its promise and reaching its objectives -- and leveraging its respective technology tools across all of these highly trackable and sometimes ephemeral channels to manage ROI and yield. If this two-way transparency exists, buyers sellers, and even entrepreneurs, can continue to test out new things, scale them, and insure they serve their customers well.