GM Smolin On Turn Demand-Side Platform Update, Service And Real-Time Bidding Trends

TurnEarlier this week, Turn announced a major update to its demand-side platform, Turn Media Platform v2.5, which “includes a streamlined workflow and automated campaign analyzer.” Read the release.

Philip Smolin, GM Platform Solutions at Turn, discussed the update to Turn’s DSP as well as his company’s approach to service, and industry trends. Beyond simplified workflow, how important is service to a platform such as Turn’s? What’s Turn’s approach to service especially as it relates to agencies?

PS: Although display advertising is becoming much more technology-centric it still requires a blend of art and science.  So regardless of who is providing the staff, knowledgeable campaign managers are required to drive the process.

Our approach is to provide a self-service platform that streamlines a campaign’s complexities into an intuitive workflow for planning, buying, optimization and analytics. For clients who don’t have the staff or plan to build out a ‘trading desk’ core competency, Turn provides fully out-sourced campaign management and consulting services. Other clients are in transition, with Turn providing partial service as they staff up.  In addition, we have a Media Services division that’s available to assist agencies with media strategy and buying for publishers who are not currently available via the exchanges.

It’s important to note that regardless of whether their staff or ours is managing the campaigns, the client always has direct access to the platform and 100% transparency into inventory sources, performance and audience segmentation strategies.

Can you see guaranteed (or futures) inventory becoming a part of the DSP model – and Turn’s, in particular?

Absolutely. Exchanges today are spot markets that represent a more efficient way to conduct the buying and selling of remnant inventory. We fully expect these spot markets to evolve into ‘forward markets’ that also support the buying and selling of premium, guaranteed inventory.

It’s important to keep in mind that display advertising is different from search, and marketers use it to engage in the upper funnel events of brand discovery and engagement. Large scale display campaigns require building audience strategies and media plans weeks and months in advance, especially when the campaign will span multiple media channels. This is why agencies have purchased media on a guaranteed basis in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Turn is actively working with our strategic clients and the media providers to evolve the DSP model to support the concept of forward markets, and do so in a way that is compatible with the audience targeting strategies now being embraced in the spot markets.

What can you say about access to real-time bidded inventory today compared to the first of the year? Is there more scale? Any sense of momentum for RTB inventory sources that you can provide?

Adoption has been explosive. Virtually, every major auction-based inventory market has either deployed RTB access for 100% of its inventory, or is in the process of doing so.  Turn’s platform is already bidding on several billion brand-safe impressions via RTB per day, and we expect that number to exceed 20 billion impressions per day over the next 12 months. By the end of 2011, RTB access will be ubiquitous and the de facto standard for buying non-guaranteed inventory on auction markets. At that point, I think the RTB acronym will fade in industry conversation as it becomes synonymous (and redundant) to the term ‘ad exchange’.

By John Ebbert

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1 Comment

  1. Phil

    Given your sentiments on exchanges and DSPs, I am curious to hear Turn’s thoughts on the ad network business. My colleagues still get pitched for ad net buys from Turn. I’m assuming both businesses run on the same platform? What’s the difference?