Publishers, Brands Buzz Over Programmatic Private Marketplace Buys

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ProgrammaticVidWhile both programmatic buying and online video are in vogue, the best way for these two to come together—in the opinions of both publishers and brands—is through private marketplace buys.

Programmatic video ad platform BrightRoll has seen 50% of the top 50 publishers engage in private marketplace deals, said company founder and CEO Tod Sacerdoti Wednesday during the BrightRoll Video Summit in New York. BrightRoll defines the programmatic private marketplace deal as invitation-only with agreed-upon impressions up front, executed via a programmatic platform.

“We’ve seen an uptick for our brands at BrightRoll for private marketplaces for video, which is a new phenomenon for the video industry,” said Dan Mosher, senior vice president of business operations at BrightRoll.

BrightRoll isn’t the only video ad platform noting the uptick in private marketplace deals. Surveying a room of 60 buy-and-sell-side executives during a Programmatic Speed Dating event Tuesday, programmatic video ad platform LiveRail discovered 60% of buyers claimed to have bought video inventory through programmatic guaranteed deals already with 80% planning to do so this year.

Industry powerhouses like YouTube – and broadcasters like NBCUniversal – are also joining the private, programmatic party. YouTube SVP Susan Wojcicki spoke recently of guaranteed deals for premium reserved inventory that will be available to TV advertisers across 14 categories. The Wall Street Journal also reported NBCUniversal’s plans to dip its toes in programmatic selling for select advertisers this upfront season.

The advent of programmatic private deals, which offer more transparency during the buying process, has garnered interest from some publishers that were otherwise iffy around the concept of programmatic buying and selling.

As a content provider, video hosting service Vevo tended to tread carefully around programmatic.

“When the set of plumbing for programmatic was created, we [originally viewed it as] an anonymous pool of inventory from different online publishers,” said Jonathan Carson, CRO of Vevo, during BrightRoll’s Video Summit. “For someone like Vevo, that wasn’t an interesting space for us because we saw value in context.”

Yet he finds the private marketplace appealing as it provides the advantages of programmatic while mitigating the detriments. “[It] gives us the ability to apply that programmatic piping with Vevo’s context,” Carson said. “As buyers start to transact that way more, it becomes more attractive for Vevo.”

For advertisers like Heineken, programmatic private marketplaces tend to be better at satisfying key buying considerations. The beer brand, for instance, requires three things when it buys programmatically: There has to be enough available inventory to make the transaction worthwhile, the technology to add intelligence to the buying process and partners that fit Heineken’s brand identity and scale requirements.

“We’re not looking to bottom feed,” said Ron Amram, senior media director for Heineken USA. “We’re looking for the right, premium content with the right partners. This is where we feel private exchanges are differentiated. The other thing is transparency. For an alcohol brand … we need to be accountable. We care about who we’re seen with. This is where private marketplace solves a lot of problems we’re facing.”

Publishers also have more flexibility in how they package inventory, according to Vevo’s Carson. (Although, it’s important to note the general consensus that heightened publisher control drives up CPMs). After all, not all content, like a new Lady Gaga video, generates immediate and automatic advertiser interest.

“There are other parts of our inventory that are more open, run-of-site that can be packaged up according to audience, and around the individual user, which has not been where we played in our first two years as a company,” Carson said.

How fast will Vevo scale with programmatic? “That remains to be seen,” Carson said. Much depends on whether enough advertisers want to target specific audiences using certain devices. For instance, while over half of Vevo’s revenue comes from multi-platform campaigns, some advertisers want to target, say, connected TV users who typically have average session lengths of 15-20 minutes.

Despite growing interest, programmatic private marketplace buys won’t replace other forms of buying. Targeting might be important, but in many cases, so is reach. And while some advertisers want to use data to enhance audience granularity, Carson warns against focusing excessively on specific attributes.

Another key consideration for Heineken in pushing deeper into programmatic is having the proper measurement apparatus in place. With video, specifically, he said measurements like Nielsen OCR and comScore vCE are important, but BrightRoll's move to integrate and centralize both sets of third-party metrics in-platform at no extra cost "makes it much more valuable to us."

"It seem[ed] like the right thing to do, in that they’re both currencies, and some clients require we use comScore, some clients require we use Nielsen, and no matter who we talk to, they all believe there are two major measurement companies," Tim Avila, SVP of marketing operations for BrightRoll, told AdExchanger. "Those tend to be the partnerships that matter."

Additionally, because programmatic video will ultimately span multiple supply sources, BrightRoll extended an integration with Google DoubleClick Ad Exchange, which enables programmatic buys of YouTube inventory. "We now have bidirectional, RTB, server-to-server integrations between both companies," Avila said. "So, for instance, if you’re trying to reach a narrow audience, all the access to supply that you can get helps, and certainly AdX is a source of high-quality supply."

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