Home Digital TV and Video Havas Media Names FreeWheel A Preferred SSP

Havas Media Names FreeWheel A Preferred SSP

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Transparency is at the top of TV advertisers’ wish lists. And on Wednesday, Havas Media was granted its wish when the agency named FreeWheel a preferred SSP partner for premium video.

FreeWheel addresses the agency’s needs for programmatic transparency and supply path optimization (SPO), both of which are key to buying TV spots, Tom Grant, SVP of investment operations at Havas, told AdExchanger.

“Connected TV is our fastest growth area,” Grant said, “and that channel is becoming more and more programmatic.”

The agency started an annual RFI process in 2019 to vet SSPs for preferred partnerships, as biddable CTV saw increased demand. FreeWheel stood out this time because its ad server is integrated with its SSP, meaning FreeWheel “effectively controls” its header bidding auctions and can process a higher percentage of bid requests more quickly than other SSPs Havas evaluated.

Take that!

But “transparency is table stakes” for biddable TV impressions, Grant said, noting the agency’s priority when it first started its search for preferred SSP partners.

Recently, FreeWheel started offering more transparency into its take rates, which Grant said has “historically been a challenge” for the SSP because those disclosures typically depend on the relationship with each publisher.

After working through some internal compliance questions, FreeWheel and Havas came to a compromise: If Havas buys a sufficient volume of supply to diversify its media spend across a range of publishers through FreeWheel, the SSP will provide a certain level of take rate transparency. (Sometimes it really is better to buy in bulk.)

Comic: The Fear Of Finding Out“We don’t necessarily have [take rates] right down to the individual deals,” Grant said, but Havas will get a better sense across its overall media spend.

Advertisers will also have a better idea of how their campaign budgets perform across channels, he added.

As a result, a bigger percentage of Havas Media’s dollars will go to working media with clearly outlined pricing structures and improved fraud monitoring, said Cameron Miille, head of marketplace activation at FreeWheel.

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Corner the market

Havas sticks to private marketplaces (PMPs) or programmatic guaranteed deals for TV buys, which means spending more through a main SSP was important for Havas to access more biddable premium supply, including linear inventory. The agency doesn’t buy any TV impressions in an open auction due to the risk of ad fraud, a pretty big problem for connected TV.

“Direct relationships mean we don’t have to worry about muddying the waters with resellers,” Grant said, noting that PMPs and programmatic guaranteed is a CTV buyer’s best bet to avoiding ad spoofing. They also provide bidding flexibility for agencies.

Programmatic guaranteed works similarly to an insertion order in that buyers can reserve inventory for a fixed price. Floor-price PMPs, which do not have a fixed price, allow buyers to bid more competitively for scarcer inventory.

Havas, for example, starts out by securing inventory through programmatic guaranteed, then “fills in the gaps” with non-guaranteed inventory in a PMP to extend audience reach further, Grant said.

Using an SSP for both biddable and guaranteed deals gives Havas a better view of available inventory based on advertiser demand — both programmatic and direct — and “improves the agency’s ability to win auctions,” Miille said.

Optimal flowComic: I Want My CTV!

Overlaying audience data onto TV buys for targeting is typically harder to accomplish compared with other ad channels because supply is more limited, Grant said. But direct access to publisher supply can improve programmatic targeting.

“We’re testing sending out more [audience] segments to publishers directly,” Grant said, which gives the agency a better idea of which channels can reach more of an advertiser’s audience for a particular campaign, a perk of SPO.

The sooner audience segmentation is applied, Grant added, the better the campaign performance.

It’s showtime …?

Still, transparency doesn’t stop at programmatic supply and bid pricing. Agencies are eagerly awaiting better insights into where TV ads are actually running, Grant said. The “ultimate goal” for TV and video buyers is full transparency into show-level viewership of all content.

“Channel or network information is more common,” Grant said, “but show-level data is still pretty rare.” Not many SSPs offer viewership information in a bidstream because the publishers themselves don’t share it.

Grant said working with FreeWheel to increase show-level transparency is on the to-do list for this year. Show-level targeting is part of the big picture when it comes to reaching and scaling the right CTV audiences, he added.

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