Opera Mediaworks Responds To The Private Marketplace Trend With A Mobile Product Of Its Own

OperaSelect“Premium” can be a slippery term, but Opera Mediaworks defines it thusly: the ads publishers actually want to appear near their content and the content advertisers actually want to show up near their ads.

That need was the instigator behind Opera Select, the mobile ad company’s new private mobile marketplace offering, unveiled Thursday.

Publishers that contract with Opera already use its technology to create their own custom exchanges with brands and agencies. The purpose of Select is to extend that capability by pumping up the demand volume and automating the programmatic direct and programmatic guaranteed deals that happen under Opera’s auspices.

“People want to continue to do business on a one-to-one basis, but they also want the efficiency of programmatic,” said David Kurtz, SVP of product strategy at Opera Mediaworks and chief product officer at AdColony, the video ad network Opera acquired for $350 million in July. “Select is a spinoff that creates collective supply in a unique marketplace offering for buyers.”

For the moment, Opera’s private mobile exchange will remain invite-only, open just to existing customers who have direct relationships with the Opera Mediaworks sales team.

Opera isn’t claiming to be the first mobile exchange on the market, but it is declaring itself to be the first truly premium one.

The concept behind Opera Select seems to be, quality in, quality out. Private isn’t about a number – there’s no artificial cutoff in terms of how many buyers and sellers can participate in the marketplace – it’s about the ingredients.

“This isn’t about how many, it’s about the quality of who you let in, both in terms of demand and supply,” Kurtz said. “You need scale on both sides for this to work and limiting the numbers doesn’t help. It’s about having a threshold for quality.”

That said, Opera declined to name any participants or say how many buyers and sellers are using Select. The platform, which was already live with a small number of clients before Thursday, is now generally available.

Other than the nature of the inventory and the caliber of advertiser within Select, Opera said it will be providing users with the ability to access early session impressions, which means partners have a chance to evaluate and bid on certain impressions before they go out onto the open exchange.

Buyers and sellers are also able to leverage their own data when making purchases within Opera Select, which Kurtz called a “differentiator.”

According to Kurtz, Opera clients are looking for more mobile-specific opportunities to bid on. Take Instant Play Video, for example, a technology that eliminates buffering and latency by automatically pre-caching video ads in HD resolution, which Opera brought on board with its AdColony acquisition.

Mobile is a big motivator behind the trend toward more premium, private buying environments, Kurtz said.

“Because of the screen size, ads on mobile are so much more noticeable on the page, and that’s been an accelerant to this process,” he said. “The stakes are higher on mobile.”

Beyond higher-quality mobile buy and sell opportunities, all parties are looking for more transparency and more authority, said Kurtz.

“The first wave of programmatic, which was represented by open exchanges, was incredibly effective at matching supply and demand, but not always at creating a brand safe environment,” he said. “The private exchange trend is driven by a desire to exert some control.”

Opera has been busy in 2015. In addition to Select, the company introduced a native extension of its mobile-focused Opera Mediaworks Ad Exchange in January, which until then had only dealt with programmatic display and video.

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