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Digital Content Next


Research / Insights on current and emerging industry topics

New DCN report offers insights on programmatic marketplace

January 7, 2020 | By Rande Price, Research VP – DCN

Digital Content Next (DCN) has released a strategic advertising report, TRUSTX Programmatic Market Insights Report, which offers learnings on the mechanisms, practices, and performance in play in the programmatic market. The report is based on interviews with publishers as well as insights from the teams at DCN and TRUSTX – DCN’s cooperative and private marketplace launched in 2016. It gathers insights from publishers and distills best practices to help educate and drive a positive industry discussion in the programmatic ecosystem.

Publishers report that there is an overall institutional resistance to adopting a cost-per viewable model at scale within a media ecosystem predicated on low CPMs and often low-quality content. The report also uncovers some high-level insights into the programmatic market and offers an insider’s view into programmatic practices.

Supply-Path Optimization (SPO) and Demand-Side-Platform (DSP) Throttling

Two specific industry practice noted by publishers include:
Supply-Path Optimization (SPO) and Demand-Side-Platform (DSP) Throttling

This practice occurs when DSPs exclude an SSP’s bid based on bidding history in order to increase the likelihood that a bid will win. DSPs favor the SSPs with the highest number of queries per second (QPS). This enables DSP supply path optimization intelligence to “learn” how to win.

These SPO algorithms can be a barrier for smaller, newer SSP entrants. SPO algorithms, as they are designed today, favor established, larger scale SSPs. Increased visibility into the opaque ad tech ecosystem was cited as one of the most valuable benefits of participating in TRUSTX. Publishers believe that transparency is critical to strengthen the digital advertising market.

Hidden Reselling

It is not uncommon for SSPs to leverage indirect buying channels (other ad networks and exchanges) to tap into unsold inventory. These additional supply-chain interactions, through what are known as resellers, increase non-working media costs to buyers (additional ad-tech taxes), and diminish revenue to publishers. Reseller routes to premium publisher inventory are typically invisible to buyers, and sometimes not visible to sellers. (Note that TRUSTX does not permit any resellers in its supply-chain; all buyers get a direct path to all publishers.)

While publishers agree that TRUSTX has advanced the programmatic marketplace, they also see opportunity to further evolve marketplace dynamics. This includes marketing officers and agency executives directing their buyers to spend only in premium programmatic environments that are based on value-driven economics rather than auction-based systems predicated on cheap CPMs and cost