If you're a demand-side platform or ad network on Right Media Exchange, you may not be allowed to buy Yahoo! Class 2/remnant inventory on behalf of your client unless your advertiser gets its very own seat on RMX. (Having an advertiser get its own seat is not easy on RMX. It requires time, money - and approval.)
According to multiple, reliable sources, that's the latest directive from Right Media account managers who began telling some of their DSP/network clients that they will have until December 2 to migrate their advertisers. Thereafter, the display ad inventory "valve" containing Yahoo! inventory which leads directly to the DSP, will be turned off.
As All Things D's Peter Kafka reported two weeks ago, retargeters such as TellApart, Criteo and Dotomi have already had their "Class 2" inventory (Yahoo! remnant display ads) shut off. This week's move isn't a huge surprise given the demand-side platform model is essentially the same between retargeters, DSPs and ad networks.
There are several intended effects for Yahoo!
First, it wants to drive the sale of display ad inventory through its direct team which comes in at a higher CPM. As large direct advertiser relationships are established on the exchange, this will provide Yahoo! visibility into those buyers and their remnant AND direct sales needs. Over time, if it wants, Yahoo! may be able afford dropping CPMs on a direct basis as it has cut out the middleman, which sets up the possibility of larger, bulk buys of direct or remnant inventory on an "upfront" basis by the direct advertiser - a relationship the publisher covets. The "upfront" - woohoo!
The question for Yahoo! (and other big pubs) is... can going it alone through a direct relationship with advertisers overcome any perceived shortfall, which relationships with skilled, data-driven DSPs/ad networks had made up by buying remnant - and aggregating demand - through RMX on behalf of clients?
Yield management without the middleman echoes the theme of the deal which Yahoo! has led with Aol and Microsoft where each will be selling the others remnant display inventory. Owners of "big inventory" are starting to guard the inventory gate in hopes of limiting exposure to the data-driven platform buying "middleman" world that is perceived by some to be cherry-picking inventory and driving down overall yield for big publishers. Also, publishers want to prevent channel conflict as advertisers may try to buy through DSPs and ad networks, which works against publisher direct sales efforts to those advertisers.
Timing-wise, this move is similar to last year when AppNexus was cut off from DoubleClick Ad Exchange around the busiest time of the shopping year ("Black Friday") and had to find its advertisers their own seats on the Exchange. But, that was a unique case for Google Doubleclick - the difference for DoubleClick Ad Exchange in comparison to Yahoo!'s move is that Google currently allows most of the nimble DSP, ad network and retargeter players access to their inventory. Will Yahoo! miss them? Does this make Google display ad strategy stronger by driving the demand aggregators to DoubleClick Ad Exchange? Or, does Google make this sort of move, too, in the long haul - requiring all advertisers have a "seat" on its exchange?
Big players are flexing their inventory muscles and requiring access to the advertiser. What's a DSP to do? For beginners, direct relationships with publishers through private exchanges or the like will likely be increasingly important. And, that's what Right Media is becoming - a big, gated private exchange for Yahoo! inventory. (- or is RMX becoming a big DSP for Yahoo! inventory? 6 of 1, half a dozen...)
The idea may be that there's a little less margin on the arbitrage between the purchase of remnant display and selling it back to the advertiser client. Now the advertiser client has a direct relationship with the supply source and its pricing. The advertiser still needs the retargeter, DSP and/or ad network to bring it all together for the advertiser across all supply sources and a layered, data-driven digital world that leverages multiple tools and services. This is not the end of the middleman - but this slice of transparency may be an early move away from arbitrage and to the services model of agencies.
It's safe to say that interclick (acquired by Yahoo! earlier this month) was not cut off from Yahoo!'s inventory and may be the last ad network left standing on Right Media for Yahoo! Class 2 inventory along with Yahoo!'s own ad network and "Big 3" members Ad.com (Aol) and Microsoft Media Network (Microsoft). Perhaps the Big 3's ad networks will pick up some of the pieces of clients who don't want or can't afford a seat on RMX.
It's the Big Squeeze!
By John Ebbert