Verizon Media Wins Microsoft Display SSP Business From AppNexus

Supply-side platformAfter Microsoft determined that using the Verizon Media supply-side platform (SSP) for its display inventory increased CPMs in September, it officially switched – the companies said Thursday – making Verizon Media its primary SSP for MSN and Outlook inventory across nine markets, including the United States.

The switch validates the work Verizon Media has done over the past few years to integrate all of its technologies – an unwieldy 7 DSPs and another 7 SSPs – into a single tech stack.

“Now that we are in a unified stack, our resources can be a lot more productive in terms of shipping new features,” said Verizon Media Chief Business Officer Iván Markman.

When Microsoft tested the streamlined product, Verizon Media had to show that its SSP tech delivered more revenue than others in head-to-head tests. “We took over the top of the waterfall. But in order to do that, we had to earn it,” Markman said.

How exactly is Verizon Media able to deliver more revenue to Microsoft? A few factors came into play – but they all come down to data.

“If you are buying Microsoft through our DSP, you have access to our first-party data to optimize your buy, which includes diverse data signals on 900 million uses every month,” Markman said.

And Verizon Media has tried to make it simple for buyers to activate using that data by creating turnkey, private marketplaces for buyers. Within the DSP, buyers can use contextual segments that span AOL, Yahoo, Outlook and MSN inventory.

Verizon Media DSP customers can also buy segments that take into account users’ behavior across all these sites, from whether they check financial news to what sports teams they follow. Those same buyers can also optimize based on this behavior across the entire Verizon Media universe (as long as there is first-party consent).

When Verizon Media – then AOL – first inked a 10-year sales deal with Microsoft in 2015, it grabbed the direct sales and programmatic side of the business in nine key markets, while AppNexus picked up the programmatic side of the business in other key global markets. In 2019, Verizon Media also picked up Microsoft’s native advertising business.

Much of the focus in ad tech has been on buyers consolidating the SSPs they work with, or supply path optimization. But the same trend in reverse – demand path optimization – is only now getting its due. A publisher like Microsoft picking a main SSP is the sign of that trend at play, Markman said. “There has been a lot said about supply path optimization, but from the publisher’s side, demand path optimization is still fairly nascent. And there is a lot of opportunity.”

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