With more ways than ever for supply sources to tap into DSP demand, it’s no secret that SSPs, exchanges and aggregators generally want to instrument the most direct integration possible. Understandably so: with the rise of header bidding leveling the playing field, many suppliers believe that fewer points of intermediation between them and marketer demand will result in them earning more total dollars from that DSP. That’s not always true; it is sometimes more efficient (and thus preferred) to access underlying supply via a third party, but it’s mostly fair to say that having a direct path to supply tends to remove several points of inefficiency from the supply chain.
At MediaMath, we are passionate about improving marketer outcomes — it’s what we’re paid to do, it’s what excites and inspires us and it’s what I am primarily graded on. In that way, our incentives are closely aligned with those on the sell-side: when our SSP and exchange partners drive results for our customers, it logically follows that they are going to spend more across those channels, and that we’d want to have the cleanest, most direct path to those underlying impressions.
What are some of the things within supply partners’ control that can help drive positive marketer outcomes?
• Inventory Quality. This is table-stakes for anyone that we work with; it is the supplier’s responsibility to ensure that the bid opportunities we are sent are free of suspicious traffic and brand-unsafe content, and have a high propensity towards viewability. Simply put, neither we nor our clients should pay for fraud, and we expect all of our suppliers to work towards a goal of 0% invalid traffic.
• Transparency. If you are an intermediary and would bring us access to multiple end-publishers, we need complete transparency into that supply chain. This includes an always up-to-date mapping of individual inventory sources within your framework.
• Knowledge-enabled Bid Opportunities. The level of metadata that we see surrounding a bid opportunity will sometimes determine whether we choose to bid on it. Data-decorated bid opps provide our platform with much more information that helps us determine if it makes sense to buy that impression — contextual “clues” empower us to make a much more informed valuation of the opportunity.
• Understanding the Auction Dynamic. This one is dead-simple: if we’re going to be bidding into a first-price environment, we need to know this so we can price our bids accordingly. It’s also very helpful for us to gain insights around auction wins/losses — when we don’t win, what are the reasons, and what can we do together to improve win rate? Additionally, guaranteed deal structures often provide our customers with excellent buying opportunities.
• Clearance at Reasonable Floors. No one likes overpaying for inventory, but no one likes consistently losing at auctions either. It’s important that our suppliers set floors that are reflective of the value of the underlying inventory, and that also provide ample opportunity for many different types of marketers to be successful. A floor price that swings wildly (and not because of legitimate market dynamics or a shift in the character of the inventory) is not something that can be effectively planned against, and is thus less likely to attract spend. Suppliers who can tell us things like “we project clearing 85%+ of bids at a $X floor” are giving themselves a significant data advantage over others.
• Premium Publishers. We believe that outcomes are likely to be better when ads are run in high-quality environments. Though it’s hard to find publisher “exclusives” these days, supply sources with unique, incremental access to premium supply will immediately garner our attention. Reaching the right users also matters tremendously to our customers, and understanding how much of marketers’ best audiences your properties attract will be very helpful in our prioritization.
• Omnichannel. As a DSP that executes across all channels, we’re always looking for great display, video and mobile inventory, but we’re also keenly interested in suppliers that can help us with advanced TV, audio, digital out-of-home and beyond.
The direct integration is often (but not always) one of the best ways to maximize a supplier’s relationship with a DSP. It can’t be stated strongly enough: there’s no guarantee that a direct integration will have the desired effect for supply sources. But by putting themselves in the marketer’s shoes, SSPs and exchanges can be masters of their destinies when it comes to improving client outcomes and rising to the top of the integration queue.