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Buyers Conquer The PMP Scale Problem With Curated Marketplaces


Ad buyers are turning to a tool called curated marketplaces to get more reach for their private marketplaces.

Curated marketplaces let buyers set up a group deal ID across several publishers based on likeminded attributes.

Supply side platform SpotX first developed them in 2015, and they’re gaining more traction with buyers.

Of the 65% of its inventory transacted in PMPs, about 20% of the total spend is now transacted via curated marketplaces vs. the remaining 80% through one-to-one PMPs.

“I’ve been buying PMPs for six years and always ran into the same issue,” said Gabe Cohen, associate media director for Mindshare. “If you want a top quality pub, then you likely have to target broadly, might not be able to layer on frequency caps or they don’t work with your verification vendor of choice.”

Curated marketplaces mitigate this challenge by allowing a buyer to get the quality and reach they need from publisher inventory without setting up a bunch of different direct deals.

While PMPs historically allowed advertisers to build custom whitelists and carve out unique demand across specific publisher domains, curated marketplaces let buyers discover audiences based on shared attributes across publications, said Kristina Goldberg, SVP of programmatic for Spark Foundry. 

And these attributes tend to be more sophisticated than standard segments.

For instance, advertisers can buy audiences across publishers based on 30 points of targeting criteria, such as the GroupM viewability standard, pubs that index highly for 21-and-over audiences to meet legal drinking age requirements, pubs that are COPPA-compliant or no news publishers.

Setting up curated marketplaces creates more leverage for buyers, since they can create more price competition for a given audience across multiple publishers.

“We’re able to bid more aggressively to keep publishers honest,” Cohen said. “We’re able to tell the SSP what we’re willing to pay they can essentially go back to their publishers and say, ‘Take it or leave it,’ because there is [no shortage of] quality inventory [in the curated marketplace].”


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From the publisher’s perspective, opting in to a curated marketplace opens up incremental sales opportunities and ensures a steadier flow of demand.

In addition, the publisher saves time setting up a PMP on a one-to-one basis, which may or may not perform at the desired scale the advertiser wishes.

Instead, publisher inventory is automatically added to a curated marketplace if they opt in and if their audience segment matches a buyer’s targeting criteria.

“As we sign on new platform partners, we ask those publishers if they want to opt in to the marketplace,” said Jon Romano VP of agency development for SpotX. “It’s a more accurate way of reaching a target audience, aligning to key KPIs and therefore, there’s less waste and this assurance that every dollar is actually going to media.”

The goal of a curated marketplace is also to take the guesswork out of picking high-performing publishers, he said.

“It lets you identify and recommend publishers against a specific KPI for that brand, [and] allows you to layer in data for targeting on top of the group deal ID to ensure they’re hitting specific KPIs against specific content types,” Romano said.

Note: At the time of this interview, Gabe Cohen was associate media director for Starcom, but has transitioned to Mindshare since the publishing of this article. 

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