Rue Du Commerce Lets Direct And Programmatic Compete

Direct-and-programmaticIf publishers allow programmatic to compete with direct-sold impressions within their ad server, they needn’t bother with header bidding.

French ecommerce site Rue du Commerce saw a sizable boost in yield when it did just that. It belongs to a family of ecommerce sites, Régie E-Commerce (REC), which together attract 14 million uniques a month. The sites monetize the majority of their impressions via direct deals, with a 70-30 split between direct and programmatic.

In order to improve the yield it gets from programmatic, it implemented a feature called holistic yield management in its ad server, Smart Ad Server’s SmartRTB+, that allows programmatic impressions to compete with direct-sold ones. Smart Ad Server scores a direct-sold campaign based on the likelihood that it will deliver. That score will determine if the programmatic impression can beat the direct-sold one.

Instead of waterfalling from one vendor to another, the RTB+ feature establishes server-side connections with the main DSPs, allowing them to quickly flow in bids. Publishers control the levers of RTB+, deciding which inventory and which partners they want to give the first look.

To test the impact of holistic yield management, Régie E-Commerce enabled and disabled the RTB+ feature on its Rue du Commerce site over a period of four days last November to test the lift. It used another three of its sites as a control for the market conditions.

Revenue increased 133% with holistic yield management enabled. CPMs rose 5%. Programmatic buyers bid more often, and they also won more impressions. Auctions went up 149%, and impressions increased 129%. And direct campaigns continued to fulfill on time, according to the audited study.

Buoyed by the results, REC is expanding its use of RTB+ to its other ecommerce sites, including Darty, Conforama, Auchan and Top Achat. The primary reason for the switch is greater ROI and better RTB revenues, according to REC Director Jacques Hemmendinger.

Smart AdServer’s US general manager, Romain Job, sees holistic yield management not only as a tool to boost yield, but a way to reduce the ad tech tax.

“Publishers need to be able to put pressure on their partners in order to reduce the margin of their intermediaries,” Job said. “It would benefit both the demand side and publishers to a have a more transparent, truly programmatic implementation.”

One example of that in practice: RTB+ brings in demand from DSPs making its tech similar to an SSP. But unlike an SSP, Smart AdServer doesn’t have a sales force setting up private marketplaces and funneling demand to its publishers. Instead, Job said publishers that create private marketplaces can own the relationships themselves.

Smart AdServer plans to add server-side connections to SSPs soon, since publishers like REC work with them. Job expects two to three SSP integrations completed by August. Currently, REC puts Rubicon and Google Ad Exchange into Smart AdServer waterfall-style, after the RTB+ auction.

“I always thought the final goal of programmatic was a more direct connection from supply and demand, more transparency, more control and higher margin for the publisher,” Job said.

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1 Comment

  1. Joe Quinn

    It is a great experiment but I don’t see what is really new here and what is different from Google AdX EDA or any other full stack solution (which does not make sense if you don’t let direct compete with unreserved)