Thought Leadership

Cleaning Up the Supply Chain: Insights from Advertising Week Europe

April 16, 2018
By Tim Rudder - Account Executive DSPs International

Nearly 40,000 ad industry professionals convened in London for Advertising Week Europe, and there were key takeaways for programmatic buyers in terms of how they can enrich relationships and drive better performance from their supply partners.

The Trends

Trusted Partnerships

Working with transparent and trustworthy partners emerged as a universal theme across multiple panels during Advertising Week Europe.

One of the main focus points was the move to first price auctions — with brands and agencies expressing their displeasure about some exchanges making this move in secret — as well as the lack of assistance available in terms of adapting their bidding strategies accordingly. It was quite clear that brands viewed the lack of disclosure as fraudulent behaviour.

There was also a strong focus on Supply Path Optimisation (SPO), with calls to focus energy on working closer with a few quality partners rather than the multitude of exchanges that are currently on offer.

These partners should have a strong relationship with their publishers and be able to provide efficient scale. But buyers should also be willing to pay for the quality inventory that they expect from such partnerships, since, as one panellist stated:  “If you are buying premium publishers on the cheap, then you probably are not buying premium publishers.”

Adopting Industry Standards to Fight Fraud

Brand safety and ad fraud were also major focus points at Advertising Week Europe.

A push for cleaner supply chains made the adoption of Ads.txt the dominant ask, but there was also an emphasis on 3rd party verification from the likes of MOAT and IAS, as well as the need for industry-wide brand safety and fraud standards — such as JICWEBS (UK) and TAG (US) certification.

The Way Forward

Enriching your supply-side partnerships

There is a desire for real progress in terms rebuilding trust between buyers, sellers and technology partners, including an eye to holding vendors accountable for their marketing narratives about transparency, brand safety and fraud.

So as a buyer, what exactly should you be asking from your partners on this front — and what actually differentiates them?

  • Brand Safety: regulation and certification

We can all agree that brand safety and ad fraud have a negative impact on our industry, and since most vendors will say that they have steps in place to mitigate these threats — the main job here is to know your partners.

One of the ways to get a detailed look into your vendor’s ad fraud and brand safety processes is to look into their certifications from both TAG (US) as well as JICWEBS (UK).

Rubicon Project is TAG certified, and you can also find both our Brand Safety and Anti Ad Fraud JICWEBS certifications publicly accessible. These documents offer a detailed breakdown of our scoring, as well as the processes we have in place to combat these issues. If your other partners haven’t shared this information, you might ask them why not?

  • Total Take Rate

Nothing says transparency like sharing your total take rate.

Gone are the days of the black box ecosystem. If you’re thinking about SPO, having a fully transparent relationship with your partners is a must. This not only includes whether your partner will share this figure with you, but also whether they are able to justify it against that of their competitors and their respective offerings.

  • Transparent Auction Dynamics and Bidding Strategy

Do you have questions about auction dynamics? You’re not alone. Here are some of the insights you should expect from a trusted, transparent supply partner when it comes to first-price auctions and bidding strategy:

  • Has your exchange told you that they’ve moved to first-price auctions? If so, how long have they been first-pricing?
  • Did they test before the move to justify it? For how long? Can they share any results?
  • Have they been monitoring both the open market and PMPs to identify unnecessary spend exposure that could result because of a shift to first-price? Are they working with clients to adjust bid strategies accordingly?
  • Is there reporting available on auction types that suits your needs?
  • Have they developed any tools or products to assist in transitioning your bidding strategy to first-price?

The opportunity

It is imperative that pressure is upheld on supply partners to not only ensure accountability for their claims about brand safety, inventory quality and transparency, but also to drive industry innovation.

Sometimes it is difficult to ask your partners difficult questions but it is clear that in the current environment, open, collaborative and trusted partnerships drive successful business outcomes for all parties involved. With that, I urge you to take these points into your next meeting with your supply partners.

If you would ever like to contact Rubicon Project about any of the points discussed, please reach out to your respective account manager.


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