Will SSPs and Ad Networks Sell Publisher Inventory Through DoubleClick Ad Exchange?

Publisher NetworksIt wasn’t too long ago (Feb. 2010 on the Official Google blog) that Google VP of Product Neal Mohan was encouraging publishers to go directly to the DoubleClick Ad Exchange (AdX) with their inventory rather than through ad networks and yield optimizers: “Maximizing revenue across various ad networks is sometimes called ‘yield management.’ For major online publishers, the Ad Exchange offers an easy-to-use yield management solution — it selects the highest paying ad from across multiple, competing ad networks, in real time. However, the Ad Exchange goes further than simple ‘yield management’ to provide a more complete revenue maximization solution.”

But, those days appear to be officially over as last week the company announced from its DoubleClick Publisher blog that it would welcome publisher networks to its DoubleClick Ad Exchange, “We’ve revised our policies to allow publisher networks to use the Ad Exchange even if they own & operate few (or none) of the sites they represent. As always, every partner site has to meet the same high-standards of quality as every AdX publisher.” Read more.

AdExchanger reached out to a selection of network and sell-side platform executives and asked the following:

“What’s your take on the announcement? Can you see your company hooking into DoubleClick Ad Exchange with your publishers? Why or why not?”

Click below for the responses or scroll down for more:

Jeff Pullen, CEO, AudienceScience

“As a digital marketing technology company that looks to help our clients to be most effective and efficient with their spend, we have access to a lot of inventory that sometimes goes unused. Although some of our publisher partners would like us to increase the percentage of inventory we can fill for them, we would only consider utilizing advertising from AdX if we could do it in a way that allows us to meet all of our publisher obligations regarding competitive exclusion lists, ad quality, etc.”

Bill Todd, President, ValueClick Media

“ValueClick Media is a buyer on exchanges, not a seller. For the network portion of our media business, the vast majority of our publisher partners don’t work with exchanges at all. This is because they get higher eCPMs and fill rates with us than they would from exchanges, due to our exclusive data and our optimization technology. So, for us, putting our network inventory on exchanges would defeat the purpose. Instead, we’ve found the better fit with exchanges to be our ability to acquire inexpensive inventory from them and enhance it so that it becomes more valuable and productive for our clients.”

Frank Addante, CEO, Rubicon Project

“Barely three months after the approval of its AdMeld acquisition, but four years after it had acquired DoubleClick, Google is addressing the industry’s #1 problem: making it efficient for display advertisers to spend money online. Google has done a tremendous job bringing advertisers online in search, and it’s clear that the company intends to become a leader in display as well. However, it won’t dominate display. The company doesn’t own the largest property (as it does in search), and whereas in search it has just a few competitors, in display it has hundreds, including publishers, ad networks, DSPs, exchanges and technology providers. Its acquisition of AdMeld was smart; as with its acquisition of Invite Media two years ago, Google was looking to create scale through its relationships.

We see three major display market segments:

  • Google and Facebook (both offer self-serve ads at scale)
  • Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL
  • The rest of the comScore 500 publishers

All three should buy and sell from each other to bring maximum efficiency to advertisers — if the buyer has direct advertiser relationships. Otherwise, the publisher will lose money by adding an unnecessary and costly ‘hop.’

More premium publishers, including 1/3 of the comScore 500, have chosen REVV, the Rubicon Project’s Real-Time Trading Platform, and are generating 150 billion trades and one trillion bids each month across 650 million users. REVV has more direct connections into publishers and their buying channels than any other platform in the market. This enables us to give publishers all the control, visibility and demand that they can’t get from Google. So we look forward to connecting the comScore 500 market to Google’s buying platform. If we all work together to solve the efficiency problem for buyers, the market will continue to grow.”

Yoav Arnstein, CEO, Legolas Media

“This is in line with two themes – one external and one internal – which Google is promoting in the market. The external theme is Openness (which came under mild attack by Mediaocean’s Bill Wise as of late), and the internal being Scale and Automation.

From a tool set perspective, if the structure of a network was transparent (pretending I can give Google product advice), and allows full scrutiny of the list, this could be refreshing. Other than that, it’s not very exciting.

We at Legolas Media believe that as an industry we should focus on adding automation and scale while maintaining transparency and quality for the brand side of the our ecosystem. As such, we promote directness and I can’t see us using this any time soon for this reason and a few others.”

Adi Orzel, CEO, Matomy Media

“I see this move as something that will turn the ADX from a closed marketplace into a true open exchange.  An exchange should include more than direct advertisers, DSPs and publishers, but all types of industry players. Until now publishers had to deal directly with the exchange and this change recognizes the need of professional management and technology layers that ad networks and media companies provide. This is an expertise on its own that publishers do not necessarily focus on, and I believe Google may have a recognized this as a missed opportunity.  I also think this move is related to the Admeld acquisition and the integration between the systems.

Matomy was one of the first media partners on the DoubleClick Ad Exchange when it launched, but we had to scale back since the policies introduced over time limited and eventually prevented publisher networks from operating on the platform. I see adding the DoubleClick demand as a positive opportunity since Matomy is committed to provide a maximized coverage of revenue opportunities to our publishers. Our platform includes an extensive indirect channel consisting hundreds of networks, DSPs and exchanges, ADX will be a good global addition.”

Elizabeth Blair, CEO, Brand.net

“From the brand advertising perspective this is an expected and welcome win for both advertisers and publishers. AdX has seen explosive growth in inventory over the past couple of years, but premium inventory – even defined as basically unsold inventory from comScore top 50 or 100 publishers in a channel – has been very limited. This is the case even in Display, never mind in Video and Mobile. As a consequence, monetization has largely been driven by traditional DR advertisers.

The result: quality publishers don’t put their best unsold inventory onto exchanges, and brand advertisers continue to view exchange-based inventory as not for branding. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy and a key factor keeping virtually all branding spend in TV. Google smartly has focused on demonstrating three things to publishers: that it will (1) provide best execution/highest monetization from the best brands, (2) provide operational ease, and (3) most importantly, guarantee publishers own BAV (brand asset value) protection: creative controls, advertiser blocks, and data protection chief among them. That’s the winning combination. By 2H, we could see a dramatic change in the size and vigor of the branding/Exchange/RTB ecosystem.”

Eric Franchi, Co-Founder, Undertone

“I am not surprised at the announcement. It’s clear that Google is trying to encourage all constituents in the display ecosystem to transact via Adx. The big question for all of us is: do we as an industry want to see Google become the platform of record for display?

The fact is, the exchange is still relatively new and there are several concerns potential sellers have. I’ll give you an example: ad quality. Just last week, a digital ad ops person at a top publisher – a comScore top 50, #1 site in its category – publically expressed his frustration on Twitter at the inability of the exchange to keep sleazy DR advertisers from gaming the system to appear on his site after blocking them.

We don’t see widespread adoption by premium publishers. Which means, for Undertone at least, it’s unlikely we’d plug into the exchange. At least in the near term.”

By John Ebbert

More AdExchanger “Industry Reactions”…

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  1. Many yield optimizers are already leveraging the DoubleClick Ad Exchange for quality demand.
    They are part of the overall stack and aren’t meant for high volume fill at high cpm’s but they play a role. The Beanstock team has successfully utilized the DoubleClick platform for branded publisher partners and will continue to do so. I’m glad Google/DoubleClick reversed their stance and are allowing aggregators to access the environment. Smart move.

  2. BTW, just to be clear, we at the Rubicon Project don’t “sell” anything. We provide a Real Time Trading platform that gives publishers the control over who they want to sell to or through and under what rules and conditions.

    It’s not our inventory, it’s the publishers and they own that choice. Our technology gives them the real time trading capabilities to connect, manage, optimize and report on their trades, but they’re the ones “selling” inventory and they’re ultimately control of those decisions.

  3. Diego Panama

    Not sure if I am missing something but I don’t understand why an SSP would plug into an Exchange (unless that Exchange has demand that the SSP is not seeing.) I’ve always thought of SSP’s as exchanges themselves, they create a marketplace. For example, if Rubicon already is integrated with Invite and all the major demand sources out there — what is the benefit of selling through AdX?

  4. Jeremy Hlavacek

    This makes sense for Google and could make display transactions things simpler, but if I were an SSP or network, I would view this with suspicion. By using AdX, you are effectively saying that Google can sell your inventory better than you can. This begs the question of your value since networks and SSPs are in the business of helping publishers monetize. If I were a publisher, I’m not sure how I would react to the news that my monetization partner is depending on Google to sell my inventory. Furthermore, its hard to ignore the fact that as more and more of the ecosystem operates on Google platforms, the market starts to look a lot like search. The one difference here is the publisher fragmentation which could ultimately short circuit the Google stack.

  5. Eric Simon

    Of course this makes sense for Google but talk about coming full circle. Back in 2008 when ADX launched, the place was filled with Ad Networks who were hiding behind blinded pub IDs. Then they were all shown the door when it started to look and feel like Right Media. Now they’re inviting them back? Hmmm… Hope they solved the nested iframe problems. But for an SSP to backfill with GOOG is flat out waving a white flag and I can’t imagine any of them will accept the invite. For the average pub this is meaningless, they still end up getting creamed by the entire buy side… Google, SSPs, Ad Networks, ATDs, DSPs, you name it. That won’t change until they start selling audience themselves and/or have a platform that is media agnostic with pipes into the entire ecosystem.