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CBC Prioritizes Private Marketplaces

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CBC PMPEyeing a shift to private marketplaces among buyers, Canadian publisher CBC has reordered its tech stack to prioritize its private marketplace over direct deals.

Done via an Index Exchange header tag, the move gives CBC’s private marketplace buyers a more favorable setup: the option to look at every user before ad impressions get divvied up by the ad server.

CBC made the move official Monday after a few months of testing. The top concern was that prioritizing private marketplace deals would negatively affect the delivery or performance of direct deals. But that hasn’t been the case.

“We have more than enough inventory to deliver those high-value cookies to the programmatic buyer, and we can push off the direct to another impression that’s not being sought after from a programmatic point of view,” said Jeff MacPherson, director of monetization platform and services at CBC.

The CBC started with a very high floor price via the header tag, which it slowly decreased to make sure programmatic buyers weren’t draining the inventory reserved for direct buys.

Now, the CBC can offer a better product to its private marketplace buyers. To find that needle-in-a-haystack customer, demand-side platforms prefer huge audiences and scale. The CBC reaches 37% of all Canadians each month, so it has that scale. But if half of its impressions were off limits because they were direct sold, buyers had far fewer people to find and bid on.

“If your direct clear rate is 50%, you’re getting rid of a huge amount of inventory of cookies that could have gotten you something on the private marketplace,” MacPherson said. “We want to get those cookies into a programmatic marketplace while upholding the guarantee of buys from our direct sales.”

The move further differentiates CBC’s private marketplace offering from its open offering. CBC participates in a publisher coalition, CPAX, but since that runs on a priority level lower than direct buys, there isn’t as much inventory left for buyers to bid on. The about-to-convert auto buyer may have already been snagged by a private marketplace or direct buyer by the time an advertiser buys inventory through CPAX.

The CBC also wanted to serve the growing number of private marketplace buyers better.

“We’re seeing a shift toward the PMPs, away from open marketplaces, because of the issues in our industry [around fraud and viewability], and we wanted to offer a larger pool of inventory that will bring more spending into the CBC programmatically,” MacPherson said.

The CBC sees the value of its inventory increasing under the setup, as well as increased bidding activity, MacPherson said. Revenue is up, too, but because programmatic fluctuates so much, it’s been difficult to tease out the impact of the shift.

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However, a study Index Exchange did of publishers on its platform showed header tag CPMs outperformed waterfall CPMs by 46% in private exchanges during the second quarter of the year.In open exchanges, the spread is even larger with header tag CPMs outperforming waterfall CPMs by 166%. That’s because open exchange CPMs are generally lower and attract more buyers, which increases bid density and clearing price.

Although the CBC wants to increase revenue via this header tag arrangement, it also wants to protect private marketplace buyers, which is why it’s only giving access to its Deal ID buyers.

“We wouldn’t let an outside bid ruin that relationship with our clients on the PMP side,” MacPherson said.

Now that CBC has the header tag in place for its desktop inventory, it’s turning its attention to mobile. After updating its mobile site with a more responsive design, CBC plans to test a header tag setup on the mobile web, which is underused from an advertising perspective. Mobile accounts for 25% of CBC’s inventory, even though mobile traffic is much higher.

“Our next steps are to see where the mobile world lies,” MacPherson said, “and how to activate in the mobile space.”

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