By Matt Sattel in Addressability, Transparency|November 13, 2023

The True Value of SSPs and Supply Path Optimization: A Conversation Between Advertising Experts

The role of supply-side platforms (SSPs) has evolved over the years, shifting from a simple pipeline between buyers and publishers to a unique channel for valuable optimization. 

Matt Sattel, SVP of Global Buyer Development at OpenX joined Wayne Blodwell, host of The AdPod, to talk about this transformation, the power of working with an experienced SSP, and what the future holds for these platforms.

Listen to their chat here, and read on for the biggest takeaways from the conversation.

SSPs aren’t what they used to be.

With an increased focus on direct supply, SSPs have developed powerful supply-side targeting capabilities, data-focused tools, and strong identity technology. This shift has brought enormous value to buyers, who can now find solutions in SSPs to their targeting and audience needs.

SSPs have a critical responsibility in this changing landscape. First, SSPs have long been responsible for sorting through the marketplace for buyers, and modern buyers are leaning on SSPs to do that and more. 

Second, SSPs can drive yield management, increase publisher revenue, and ensure fair and timely payments. The close relationships that SSPs have with each corner of the ecosystem mean they can build the most effective, efficient supply paths.

Differentiation is critical.

Any aspect of the industry that can’t differentiate itself is falling behind. For an SSP, differentiation means finding the unique capabilities that drive value for buyers. OpenX, for example, has leaned into its valuable data and identity tools, while also pushing forward impactful sustainability efforts. To survive the transforming advertising landscape, SSPs need to focus on maintaining and growing their distinct capacities.

Clients also have a task in this differentiated landscape. To find the best-fitting platform amid increasing differentiation, they need to carefully curate requests for information and ask questions that draw out connections between their needs and a platform’s specific capabilities.

SSPs are innovating to better equip modern buyers.

Buyers are facing distinct challenges from those that arose in years past, and that includes an increase in indirect inventory and made-for-advertising sites (MFA). To meet buyer needs, SSPs have developed tools that can be used to protect buyers’ investments and results. 

OpenX is doing that by digging deeply into the issues currently troubling buyers, like the need to easily remove indirect inventory and avoid MFA. We’re building tools that give quick, accessible, and valuable control to buyers — ones that SSPs like OpenX are uniquely qualified to provide.

The supply-path optimization (SPO) process has allowed buyers to build more competitive packages for publishers. There’s been an evolution of fee caps, which ultimately send more dollars to the publisher, and post-auction discounts, which power more working media and pull additional revenue back to buyers. Both of these practices have transformed commercial models within the SPO process and relationships between buyers and publishers.

SSPs are cleaning up the advertising landscape.

There are times when buyers may choose to go directly through a DSP, like when there’s a particular buy that’s necessary. There are times when buying through an SSP will bring targeted markets with focused and effective connections. Either way, there is space for both in the industry, especially when SSPs partner closely with DSP partners. 

While there’s a trend toward direct advertising at the moment, encouraged by movements against MFA, SSPs have been working hard to eliminate problematic indirect supply. These clean-ups are a critical step in bringing back buyer confidence in auction-based buying with audience layering.

For example, OpenX is developing the cleanest supply possible and placing its sophisticated audience curation on top of it. With that, buyers will soon be able to see even more clearly that it’s safe and valuable to work with an SSP for these types of buys.

The open exchange is evolving.

Buyers are concerned about brand safety and quality in the open exchange, but with the right partner, buyers can tie open exchange interactions into an auction package. This provides safeguards for both brand and results, and buyers can find powerful scale while still feeling safe and confident in their representation and numbers. 

SPO helps clients avoid massive waste.

There’s a huge amount of seller-hopping that occurs when one SSP is getting supply from another, who is getting it from another, all the way down to the publisher. The practice creates a ton of financial waste since each platform is taking a cut of the revenue. Separately, bias from a DSP toward a particular SSP can mean that content is not optimized for the best audiences. 

In each of those scenarios, supply is not being sent out through the most direct path to its most valuable audiences. SPO demonstrates where supply should run, while advanced technology from SSPs can target focused and valuable audiences. 

At OpenX, advanced data and identity tools provide this effective targeting, while blocked indirect supply and made-for-advertising sites prioritize direct contact. Together, these steps can prevent waste and provide buyers with more valuable experiences.

The true value of SPO is the close relationships with the SSPs that allow this to happen, highlighting the true value of SPO vs leveraging it to get good commercial terms. SSPs like OpenX are working closely with buyers and publishers to curate and provide the most high-value inventory possible, inventory that meets the key performance indicators set by buyers.

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