Oh, how this pandemic relishes irony. As news publishers are witnessing skyrocketing traffic, their revenues drop dramatically because advertisers have closed their pocketbooks. And because of that skyrocketing traffic and all the ad calls being sent out, DSPs that were already suffering are being overwhelmed by exploding QPS costs… When again premium advertisers have cut off the cash flow.
For The Trade Desk, enough is enough. A few weeks ago, the biggest independent DSP laid down the law (buyers’ law!) and demanded partners de-duplicate auctions. No more of the same impression coming through three or more different pipes. And because TTD is a major source of demand in the open ecosystem, exchanges, SSPs, and publishers that want to keep seeing those dollars will comply.
This is going to have some serious ripple effects across the programmatic world, and we’ll likely be seeing the repercussions for some time. Publishers heavy into programmatic may see a drop in bid density and CPMs, but there’s an argument to be made that this was coming eventually. You could even say that bid density was actually artificial. The huge amounts of duplicative auctions—collateral damage from the header bidding revolution—simply weren’t sustainable. In effect, TTD is forcing supply path optimization on the sell side, whether they like it or not. Watch other (truly struggling) DSPs follow suit.
Fortunately, TTD has left the decision up to suppliers… And chances are out of the main three—Google Open Bidding, Amazon’s Transparent Ad Marketplace, and PreBid—they’re going to go through PreBid. That exchange is open-source and enables a great deal more control for publishers. It doesn’t help Google’s cause that it’s been bumping shoulders with TTD for sometime; oh, did you know TTD integrated with PreBid to further proliferate its Unified ID? The preference is clear.
Don’t count on Google taking this lying down, however. We’re counting down the hours till Big G waives its take rate on Open Bidding.
Is Apple Baking up Another Walled Garden?
Do you remember Apple’s hapless attempt at a mobile ad platform with the iAd App Network that enabled developers to monetize their apps using ads? Yeah, we thought you might. Well, back then, mobile penetration wasn’t quite what it is today, so there was definitely an issue with scale.
Well, word on the street is that Apple could be flirting with another go at developing an ad platform. In recent months, Apple introduced a privacy-first measurement API—the SKAdNetwork—that could signal the end of IDFA. They’ve also allowed app publishers to use push notifications for marketing messages and made language changes to their Search Ads Terms of Service revealing the expansion of search inventory beyond just the App Store.
With the launch of SKAdNetwork, and the possible death of IDFA, Apple moves into the extremely advantageous position of being able to create a targeted ad network. Oh yes, yet, another walled garden. Whether Apple is able to carry off such a feat remains to be seen. iAd wasn’t the tech behemoths only fiasco in that arena. Publisher’s frustration with being able to monetize Apple News is still pretty high. The long-standing argument for such failures has been the company’s central focus on developers with little understanding of what advertisers (or publishers) need from advertising.
Viewability: Hand Sanitizer for Websites
There’s a dose of good news coming out of the IAS Media Quality Report for H2 2019 for both sellers and buyers. The report documents the promising trend of increased viewability rates across all segments of the digital ecosystem. It’s looking like publishers have heeded the call to action from marketers insisting on better performance and greater accountability for their advertising investments.
“We are seeing great improvements in viewability rates, particularly within programmatic buying environments and this is likely due to page layout improvements from content publishers alongside an increased adoption of verification technology for programmatic transactions,” said Tony Marlow, CMO, Integral Ad Science. “These improvements are a testament to the work the industry has been doing as a whole to improve trust and transparency across all digital ad buys.”
What’s more, this encouraging news continues apace into 2020, and is especially meaningful since COVID-19 self-isolation measures became necessary and audiences are increasingly turning to the internet for life-sustaining information from trusted sources of news and information.
Marketers have been beating their drums for digital hygiene--high viewability (hand sanitizer for websites) consistently for some time now. Why pay for ad impressions that may or may not be viewable by your target audience? This has never made sense and isn’t good for brand health. As a publisher, your fill rate, revenue, indeed the survival of your business, does depend on the viewability of your ad supply. Buyers are demanding this. Why not work with partners who can make this happen? Since March 15th the viewability of Duration Media’s supply of 2.5 billion impressions has averaged 92.2%.
Privacy regulations notwithstanding, as we move closer to a world without the third-party tracking cookie there’s been increasing concern about what measurement and audience targeting will look like. Google for its part, offered the Privacy Sandbox—a proposal for a series of browser APIs intended to secure users’ privacy while also enabling advertising tracking and measurement. And now, Facebook has announced a plan to incorporate statistical modeling where conversion data may be partial or missing as a result from the limited ability to use first-and-third party cookies to match conversions with people’s actions. Statistical modeling will first be applied to Conversion Lift, with Attribution and Ads Manager following later.
With Conversion Lift metrics based on directly measured conversion data combined with statistical modeling, the resulting metrics will consist of partially estimated metrics. You read that right—estimated. Given that Facebook thinks its recent FTC settlement is a model for privacy regulation, is this statistical modeling a model for the entire industry? As one Reddit r/adops community member questioned: “If a Walled Garden can't do everything deterministically, what hope does the rest of the industry have?”
Before Purchase, Google Needs to Check Your ID
Google might not be leading by example as it halves its marketing spend in the pandemic, but it seems to be pushing for better industry practices in identifying advertisers. Axios reports that Google is now requiring all advertisers trying to get on its platforms—including Google Search, YouTube, and Google News—to submit to an identity verification program. They’ll need to submit “business incorporation documents or other information that proves who or what they are and the country they operate in.” Oh, and all of these will be available to curious end users as well.
Almost every major malvertising attack in programmatic starts with an advertiser that simply shared a credit card number rather than have its ID verified. By verifying advertiser information, Google will put a giant dent in scummy, spammy advertising—let’s hope Big G uses its influence to push this best practice to all the nooks and crannies of the industry.
WaPo’s Zeus Picks Up 50 Pubs and Keeps Rolling
Hitting 50 is truly a milestone—AdMonsters had such a great bash when it hit 50 PubForums that the company is still watching video footage to piece together what happened. We hope the Washington Post’s ad tech platform Zeus was a bit more responsible when it broke the 50 publisher mark. The latest publisher to pick up WaPo’s homegrown ad tech is Snopes—just try and debunk that!
In (the first!) AdMonsters Discourse audio extravaganza (podcasts are cliche!) Arete Research’s Richard Kramer told Editorial Director Gavin Dunaway that publishers really need to find a way to band together if they have any hopes of competing with Google. Although we’ve seen a lot of promising publisher alliances bite the dust over the years (and break our hearts), maybe projects like Zeus and Vox Media’s Concert, both established by major publishers with solid tech backbones, are the initiatives we’ve been waiting for.
Who is going to be the biggest loser from TTD limiting supply paths from exchanges? Hint: it's probably not ad tech. Second hint: it's probably the same group that is almost always the loser for anything advertising-related.
Arete Research Founder Richard Kramer joins AdMonsters Editorial Director Gavin Dunaway to discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic will re-shape the digital media and advertising space... and who will be left standing.
Webinar: The Revenue Boost You Could Use Right Now—Ad-Blocker Traffic | APR 30, 2020
Ops | DEC 14-15, 2020
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