“Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.
Today’s column is written by Todd Wooten, founder and president at VRTCAL.
A good compromise, “Seinfeld” co-creator Larry David once joked, is one where both parties are dissatisfied. Between ad tech’s buy side and sell side, there’s plenty of dissatisfaction to go around, but I don’t think anyone would call the duel between supply-path optimization (SPO) and demand-path optimization (DPO) a good deal for our industry.
In fact, we can do better in 2021.
SPO hasn’t delivered on its promises. The architects of SPO never agreed on a common definition for what SPO was supposed to do and who it was designed to benefit. Moreover, as ad tech executives across the ecosystem have pointed out, SPO suffers from a lack of expertise among advertisers, a lack of enforcement among vendors and questions about neutrality among agencies.
On the sell side, DPO is essentially the mirror image of SPO. The practice effectively began with header bidding and Prebid, although we don’t typically call those two practices DPO.
Regardless, the idea is to increase revenue and the value of seller inventory, while decreasing costs. In addition, where advertisers seek out transparency as a way of ensuring brand safety, publishers also use DPO to make sure that the ads running on their sites and apps align with their goals.
Of course, even with SPO and DPO, advertisers and publishers still don’t find what they seek. Why is that? While it’s tempting to blame design and implementation challenges, the reality is that DPO and SPO are dueling practices that, despite the best intentions, have not collectively helped the problem, because they were conceived in opposition to each other.
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