LiveRail Backs Deal ID In Bid To Make Programmatic ‘More Like Direct’

Mark Trefgarne, LiveRailVideo supply-side platform LiveRail is introducing Deal ID support for all its publisher clients to bring real-time bidding and direct-ad sales methods closer together. Read the release.

While general market SSPs like the Rubicon Project and PubMatic have used Deal IDs for publishers in its private marketplaces for some time, video-brand media companies have been slow to adopt the function. That’s largely because, apart from LiveRail, there aren’t very many companies marketing these kinds of specific video services to publishers.

In general, a Deal ID represents an additional layer within a private marketplace. While private marketplaces offer publishers more controls about the kinds of advertisers and DSPs that get to see its inventory and bid for it, a Deal ID goes one step further. At its most basic, a Deal ID connects SSPs and DSPs via a “unique identifier” that lays out a concrete, previously agreed-upon set of parameters.

Most importantly, it offers publishers contingencies designed to ensure their deals are about more than getting the best price for its inventory at a given moment, said LiveRail CEO Mark Trefgarne.

“Imagine a typical exchange, where there’s a DSP with an open pipe of buys that are flowing to all the publishers on a variety of exchanges,” Trefgarne said. “It’s very hard for the seller and buyer to go through the agency during the RTB process to get a better deal. Deal ID lets publishers invoke clear rules on all the ads that a DSP is buying with a particular publisher and invoke those rules.”

For example, say a major publisher wants to put some inventory on an exchange. The publisher may not want to sell it to a direct marketer or to an advertiser whose character or presence would diminish the content site’s carefully cultivated audience profile. With a Deal ID, the publisher, through its SSP, can signal to the DSPs only offers and marketers that meet a certain narrow criteria will be accepted.

That may still sound typical for a private exchange. But the rules contained in a Deal ID provide an extra level of control and flexibility that private marketplaces don’t. Private marketplaces go as far as setting up block lists of unwelcome advertisers, as well as price floors. But the private marketplace still depends on the insertion order, which still takes some manual work. For example, an IO is generally pretty much set in stone once it’s issued.

With a Deal ID, a publisher can automatically cancel their default ad rules for certain kinds of buyers, opening portions of inventory that are otherwise unavailable programmatically. Sellers can also grant priority access.

If there’s a particular kind of advertiser a publisher wants to attract, the Deal ID can be instructed to accept a discounted pricing or more flexible packaging. The move toward Deal IDs reflects an evolution of the private marketplace by actually defining the game plan for the otherwise vague notion of “premium programmatic.” In other words, Deal ID is intended to bring more automation and choice to the static insertion order.

The function is not without challenges. Deal ID is an open-source tool that requires only that DSPs and SSPs accept mutual use or “interoperability” that lets machines speak to each other, even if the buyers and publishers are using different formats and ad units. But the parameters could be so narrowly drawn that publishers may find the main thing being squeezed is scale.

As Jed Nahum, senior director of programmatic sales at Microsoft Advertising, wrote in an opinion piece on AdExchanger this week, “as currently defined, these buy types create significant overhead for publishers that limit their scalability. I suspect these are gap-bridging offerings that are neither fish nor fowl and won’t be actively sold in the long-term. The technology that enables them, however, may be repurposed for other goals.”

In a way, transience is the point, said Trefgarne, as Deal ID is about getting the direct-sales teams more hands-on with an increasingly automated process. LiveRail had been building and testing its Deal ID feature with content network Demand Media, WPP Group’s Mindshare media agency and DSP and data-management platform operator Turn since the start of the year. He said he expects Deal ID workflows to be regular part of everyday video-ad sales.

“At the premium end of the spectrum, we think that Deal ID will be the predominant way that video is bought and sold programmatically,” Trefgarne said. “Publishers want a premium paid for their band. What we’re seeing more and more is publishers’ direct-sales teams work to include private exchanges within their overall sales offerings. This is not just another tool, but a more advanced one for media sellers.”

Companies that have largely focused on serving the buy side are interested in promoting Deal ID in the hopes that it accelerates the shift toward automation by making direct-sales teams more comfortable with programmatic.

“Programmatic direct deals, facilitated by Deal ID, are a win-win for premium advertisers and publishers, especially in the video channel where brand considerations are paramount on both sides,” said Mark Balabanian, senior director of business development at Turn.

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