By OpenX in Brands & Agencies|July 23, 2018

Navigating the Supply Path: Insights from the First Official OpenX Brand Summit

Last week we hosted our first-ever OpenX Brand Summit in beautiful Newport, Rhode Island. While the 2-day summit did not lack in fun and games – from the seaplane arrival and bay-side clambake to a competitive regatta in the bay followed by dinner at one of Newport’s oldest and most famous marble mansions – the conversations and educational sessions proved just as exciting.

Joined by some of the largest and most respected global brands, we opened channels of conversation to gain a better understanding of the challenges they face in today’s digital landscape. In return, we shared valuable insight into the inner workings of the supply side – the technology powering publishers, the evolution of programmatic, SSP consolidation and emerging quality standards.

Unsurprisingly, quality and transparency continued to take priority in everyone’s digital strategies. Beyond overcoming quality and transparency challenges, our brand partners highlighted other incredibly interesting initiatives that are high on their radar.

Here’s a closer look at two trends we discussed:

Supply Path Optimization

Brands shared how they are working to grow their knowledge of the programmatic landscape and become more involved in managing the full digital supply chain.

The unintended consequences of header bidding pushed the topic of SPO to the forefront as several new companies (mostly exchanges and SSPs) entered the market and the volume of bid requests increased dramatically. Almost overnight, the buy-side became inundated with duplicative requests and massive inefficiency.

Pop-up exchanges and SSPs have clouded the market to the point that brands are often unsure of which supply partners they can trust, where their money is going and if they are in fact getting access to the inventory they need to successfully execute their media campaigns. As a result, brands need to be actively invested in supply path strategy, which principally entails selecting the partners who will remain part of a given brand’s media supply chain.

In a nutshell, brands are taking a harder look at the supply chain and often collaborating with their DSPs and agencies to proactively identify the most optimal (transparent and trusted) pathways to supply.

In one case, a brand was working with nearly 30 SSPs, exchanges and sub-exchanges – which proved inefficient and difficult to manage, and exposed their company to material risk from low-quality inventory. By thoroughly vetting supply partnerships, the brand narrowed its partner list to roughly a dozen companies identified as top partners with regard to spend, and from there executed a thorough supply audit. To make the final cut, partners had to demonstrate their ability to deliver robust marketplace quality controls and 100% transparency.

Ultimately, this brand landed on 5 supply partners while maintaining reach, scale and access to inventory.

Brands who have hired a programmatic expert have achieved greater visibility into where their dollars are going and fees along the supply chain

In-housing programmatic expertise

A majority, if not all, of the brands attending the summit also talked about their current efforts or future aspirations to “in-house” programmatic, citing a strong desire to increase control over campaigns and ad spend. And while the overall strategy for bringing programmatic buying in-house varied greatly across brands, most were aligned that taking the function exclusively in-house may not be realistic.

Considering everything that goes into programmatic campaign management from a time and resources perspective, as well as the complexities of elements like billing, it is exceedingly difficult for brands to expertly and successfully bring programmatic 100% in-house. As an intermediate step, many brands have brought on one or more programmatic experts to lead the internal charge and coordinate with external stakeholders.

Brands who have hired a programmatic expert have achieved greater visibility into where their dollars are going and fees along the supply chain. Importantly, they’ve also been able to establish closer and more meaningful relationships with publishers and supply-side technology partners to gain a better understanding of how inventory is made available and can be optimally accessed.

With all that said, it was a great few days in Newport and we’re already excited for next year’s Summit. Until then, please enjoy a look at some of the best moments from last week:

Check out more photos here:

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