Advertising always begins with the media buyer… Who is their audience? What are their campaign KPIs? Yet private marketplaces in programmatic begin with the publisher… Who is their audience? What inventory do they have? This process is fundamentally flawed and is the reason that PMPs have not become the golden child that everyone hoped.
In a typical media planning process, the first step is to identify the target audience for a particular advertising campaign. Once defined, the creative team then develops tailored content and messaging which is distributed by media buyers through a variety of supply channels. In programmatic advertising, this process flow is upheld within the open exchange. Brands and agencies utilize DSPs to manage their digital campaigns, implementing the necessary targeting parameters (geographic filters, whitelists, demographic insights, etc.), or even uploading specific audience lists from their DMP, in order to reach their intended end user.
With private marketplaces the system flips. Publishers automatically create deals that they hope advertisers will find both appropriate and effective for their campaigns. On the supply side, the result is a surplus of deals across publishers and exchanges with minimal demand and challenges achieving scale. For buyers and demand partners, the result is frustration and countless hours spent scouring deal discovery tools for suitable opportunities. On both sides, limited resources are wasted negotiating from publisher-curated “out of the box” packages to customized demand-ready deals.
Advertising budgets are shifting towards programmatic media buying due to its inherent efficiency and real-time insights. In order to bring the high impact, direct-sold budgets into the programmatic sphere, however, we need to revamp the PMP progression.
An improved system would be advertiser-centric, with a process flow resembling that of a traditional RFP (“Request for Proposal”). An RFP, issued by an advertiser or media buyer to potential supply pools, usually begins with an overview of their upcoming campaign, including, flight dates, proposed budget, intended audience, preferred methodologies (ad sizes, device types, etc.), and desired KPIs. The document would then follow with a set of highly detailed questions about available supply or simply offer an open-ended template for supply partners to populate deal opportunities that correspond with the parameters laid out in the campaign overview.
The bottom line is… Advertisers know who they want to target and how, and publishers know the type of inventory they have and the audience they are able to reach, so this process makes sense! However, the RFP is also turning into a bit of a dinosaur. Fairly manual in nature, RFPs can take massive amounts of time to assemble, submit and review, depending on the level of detail. Additionally, the arm’s-length process feels overly formal and leaves little room for innovation.
In order to improve upon this, there are key features of the RFP that can be adapted to PMP discoverability. Instead of a UI or PMP menu listing publisher offerings (as many exchanges offer today, including OpenX), a “reverse” PMP portal would feature the advertisers, allowing media planners to post mini “RFPs” (for lack of a better name) to which publishers can respond. Advertisers can then easily peruse the available inventory and packages which have been customized for them, selecting those they deem most suitable and appropriate for their campaign. Upon selection, a deal ID would automatically generate in order for both parties to begin transacting against the deal in real-time.
While we are still some time off from ultimately realizing this reversed discoverability process, this model will be immensely helpful in alleviating many of the scale headaches currently seen with PMPs and will ultimately enable direct-sold budgets to fully shift into programmatic, a win-win scenario for everyone.