So what does Google stand to gain from a program like Partner Select?
“Google’s foundation in display inventory is based on their publisher relationships through DFP – their exchange,” said Adam Heimlich, managing director of Horizon Media’s programmatic division, HX.
Despite this role, they’re also known “for delivering low prices for advertisers, but that’s a neat trick to be able to pull off,” Heimlich added. “People don’t talk as much about how they’re able to do that and it’s because they have so much volume and so much data that they can do a lot of complex modeling for buyers and sellers and keep both sides happy.”
In that vein, Google’s throwing a bone to publishers and marketers, promising viewability reporting across DoubleClick Ad Exchange – as AdExchanger reported, Google recently united YouTube advertising with its greater Google search and display ad group – and all reserved inventory on YouTube and Google Preferred, its upper crust of “top-performing” videos on YouTube.
Preferred is “their real moneymaker and they’re positioning it like TV – scarce and premium,” said one source. “Partner Select is a tech offering, so it’s in Google’s best interest to show this side by side with their Google Preferred inventory. A lot of people want to buy outside of Google’s walled garden, so I think that’s why they introduced Partner Select – to access more programmatic video. But it’s still within Google’s stack and in many ways, they’re playing catch-up because Facebook already has LiveRail and AOL has Adap.tv.”
Although a host of other demand-side platforms (DSPs) like TubeMogul can, of course, access YouTube inventory, as Digiday reported earlier this week, Google may use a “fractional credits” system as leverage for its own ad tech stack, DBM specifically.
“I always say that Google, arguably, has the best ad tech in the world and if someone else came to us and talked about a similar offering, we’d of course listen,” said Friedman. “We evaluate any partnership we have and if things are working, we like to continue growing the partnership.”
As Razorfish’s Kathuria sees it, Google Partner Select is a step in the right direction for publishers, but to what extent will sellers reserve the “pick of the litter” for private auctions?
“Partner Select is offering advertisers access to quality and brand safe environments using data for targeting, but … I still think the ‘choicest’ inventory associated with higher margins will stay with the publishers,” he said. “If I’m a premium publisher, I would much rather have direct access to the blue-chip brands and focus on big, comprehensive programs (experiential, event-driven) and take advantage of my own proprietary data and insights.”