Michael Simpkins, Commercial Lead, Marketplace, Xandr

With the impending loss of third-party cookies, fragmentation across the programmatic supply chain is expected to grow as the number of intermediaries that media buyers work with increases.

This fragmentation leads to a lack of oversight and fee transparency, resulting in difficulties surrounding brand safety, privacy standards and inefficient audience targeting.

From consolidating your sell side platforms (SSPs) to harnessing the tools of curated marketplaces, agencies need to consider many areas if they hope to achieve control and transparency across the programmatic supply chain. 

The Need for Transparency

The importance of transparency cannot be understated. Media buyers need clarity, not only in the effectiveness of their digital ad campaigns but also in understanding where money is being spent and how much of their budget actually reaches the intended publishers.

With ad spend forecast to increase by more than 5% in 2022, according to the IPA Bellwether report, brands and advertisers will rightly question whether they’re actually reaching target audiences and generating a real return on investment (ROI). 

One way to achieve greater transparency is through the use of detailed reporting systems, informing brands on how their ad spend is reaching the desired audience. It can sometimes be difficult for brands to get all of this information from an SSP and traditional metrics — such as cost per click (CPC) — don’t provide enough detail. 

Equally, it’s important to emphasize and clearly explain how brand safety is maintained, describing the method used to target ads and demonstrating how the ads reach the right publication.

With so much of the process automated, brands need to know that they’re not being placed in potentially dangerous or irrelevant websites. Working with SSPs can help provide an additional layer of protection and ensure that they only run across brand-safe premium ad inventory. 

Brands need complete reassurance that their ad spend is having its desired effect — unfortunately, fragmentation is making this increasingly difficult. 

Strategies to Achieve Transparency

Often, large publishers use multiple SSPs to monetize their inventory, which is where some of the problems can first arise. With every new SSP comes a different route to the same inventory for buyers.

Not only does this make the process of reaching targeted audiences less efficient, but it clouds the process, resulting in a lack of trust from advertisers that have less knowledge about the inner workings of the supply side. 

This is why brands and publishers should consider consolidating the number of SSPs and think about an overarching strategy, such as supply path optimization. Brands can initiate this process by firmly deciding on their supply strategy’s most desired goals. For example, if a brand needs to increase the efficiency of its campaign while ensuring it adheres to post-cookie forms of targeting, this can be set as a firm objective. 

With this definition in place, the number of SSPs in the supply chain can be concentrated to meet the overall campaign goal. This can help achieve a considerable increase in transparency by providing brands with the opportunity to build improved working relationships with the right SSPs. 

This approach is incredibly beneficial, as it opens up the possibility of attaining oversight across the entire supply chain. Now, the DSP and SSP are no longer isolated compartments and can be properly unified in a directed strategy. In turn, brands can ensure their ad spend is following the most efficient and effective supply path.

Curated Marketplaces’ Role in an Effective Supply Side Strategy

Many of the drawbacks of traditional approaches to supply-side strategies can be remedied with a well-designed, curated marketplace. In other words, a space in which media buyers and advertisers can browse publisher supply that meets pre-agreed criteria.

Some examples of this criteria include target audience, the context of ad delivery, the type of device, brand safety measures, and more. With this level of oversight, each campaign can be launched with clear deliverables in mind, ensuring ad spend reaches the right inventory and audiences. 

Within these marketplaces, it’s possible to use the curated deal mechanism, increasing efficiency by providing specified access to traders. In this context, a particular brand can gain access to a new audience for a specific campaign. Because buyers will always need multiple approaches, a curated marketplace centralises them into one, easily manageable space that provides more transparency than a multiple SSP model. 

For brands, developing better relationships with the SSPs is the best first step to achieving a more transparent supply chain and it all starts with a well crafted strategy that contains clear objectives. 

While the curated marketplace has, to some extent, become an industry buzzword, brands that take this solution seriously will gain a huge advantage, increasing transparency and ensuring effective targeting in a privacy-first way. With third-party cookies on the way out, there’s no time to waste.

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and ideas expressed in this post belong to the author/s and do not necessarily reflect those held by State of Digital Publishing.

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