The Big Story: Coronavirus Fears And SSP/Agency Handshakes

The Big Story podcast

The new coronavirus is wreaking havoc worldwide as uncertainty reigns, and marketers aren’t immune.

This week on The Big Story, the team diagnoses the effect of COVID-19 on 2020 ad budgets, work productivity and the industry conference circuit.

Advertisers won’t necessarily spend less, but they will probably start shifting budget to channels where they know their ads have a better chance of being seen. AKA, away from out-of-home, for example, as people spend less time congregating in public spaces, and more toward streaming, which people can do from the safety of their sofas.

One thing people can’t do from the safety of their sofas, though, is compete in or attend the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and that’s a problem. Publishers, advertisers and broadcasters are biting their nails (Unsolicited PSA: Don’t forget to wash your hands) over the fate of the games, which generally attract beaucoup ad bucks.

Another looming question: Will fewer deals get done considering the numerous technology conferences that have either been canceled or postponed?

But coronavirus aside, there are some deals getting done – partnerships between large holding companies and supply-side platforms. As Alison Weissbrot reported this week, GroupM and Index Exchange are partnering in an unlikely union that will see the majority of the agency’s demand routed through Index to help with supply-path optimization.

In the past, agencies and exchanges rarely if ever had direct relationships, but programmatic times they are a-changing. After waves of consolidation in the space, SSPs are desperate not to get sidelined by SPO, while agencies are interested in leveraging its now more intimate SSP lineup to extract discounts from publishers based on volume of spend, among other motivations.

Also: The publisher perspective. SSPs are building products that give agencies what’s known as a post-auction discount, wherein buyers can submit a bid for a higher rate than actually gets paid out to the publisher. It’s a tricky little move. “A lot of publishers don’t like that, because it limits their transparency into the auction,” Alison says.

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