In the programmatic world, however, executing in real time requires an advanced technology stack and a high degree of interoperability between platforms. The core engagements between buyers and sellers have remained strong, but revolutionary levels of control, scale, visibility and efficiency have brought novel opportunities and solutions to industry problems new and old.
As buyers and sellers have taken a fresh look through this lens, some unexpected possibilities have come into focus. Among them, forward-looking agencies and marketers have found that direct engagement with supply-side platforms (SSPs) can unlock surprisingly powerful solutions to industry challenges, with benefits across the ecosystem.
The rise of media partnerships
As header bidding took hold years ago, buyers began to take more interest in the “how” of their buying, choosing optimal supply sources in a world of ample choice. Since then, a new trend has taken hold: Beyond passively assessing the cost and efficiency of supply paths, many buying organizations are exploring preferred partnerships with the supply sources that best address their needs, while driving superior efficiency.
These partnerships can take many forms, but tend to build on some common elements. Buyers can ensure their supply requirements are met—for example, in transparency into fees, reporting on their transactions, and inventory quality standards. Along with that, fee agreements and spend-based incentives create cost efficiency.
With this type of strategic media partnership, buyers are able to reliably achieve their objectives at scale, while sellers using the given SSP get access to the richest possible demand, yielding a vibrant scaled marketplace.
Technology partner opportunities
Agencies and marketers have a long history of media buying expertise, but evolving technology has introduced new opportunities to take more control over their buying. These organizations have found that taking a hands-on role is the best way to ensure an efficient and transparent, high-performing and scaled supply investment profile.
Other buyer challenges have evolved more recently. Many buyers have adopted multiple demand-side platforms (DSPs), leading to inadvertent friction inhibiting consistent application of their supply strategy. Buying organizations need to be able to manage business rules centrally, ensuring that inventory standards, identity strategy and media investment allocation can be managed in one place, and applied consistently to all DSPs they employ.
As it so happens, these buyer needs have been best solved by getting closer to supply-side tech, as some platforms have developed supply-curation technology specifically for these kinds of use cases.
The richness of this technology does vary—a limited set of solutions in market provide buyers with a complete technology stack that they can control themselves, while others rely more on service-based offerings and basic supply options. Among the best of these, buyers get powerful tools for aggregating and managing their media partnerships and preferred paths to supply, while also providing a simple and well-curated buying menu for traders and ops teams to choose from, without needing to wade into investment decisions.
While close engagements between SSPs and holding companies, agencies, and marketers may not be immediately expected in the digital advertising space, there are real market problems being solved with these partnerships, benefitting all in the ecosystem. Buyers get high-quality media at scale, cost efficiency, and transparency into fees and supply chain. Sellers get access to premium buyers spending at scale, along with more reliable activation of their partnerships with buyers. The programmatic industry continues to evolve in interesting and unpredictable ways, but effective solutions to market problems tend to have staying power.