Curation Can Bring Simplicity And Order To The Supply Side

The Sell Sider” is a column written by the sell side of the digital media community.

Today’s column is written by Romain Job, Chief Strategy Officer, Smart AdServer

With our programmatic marketplace becoming increasingly unwieldy, the challenge of identity resolution in a privacy-first, consent-based marketplace has made curation essential.

What is curation? Simply put, it’s a way to better rationalize the digital ad business by solving for its current opacity and complexity.  

Even before cookie and IDFA deprecation were announced, the programmatic world was murky and fragmented, with buyers buying from other buyers and publishers working with too many SSPs. And with the growing centrality of connected TV (CTV), bringing order and sense to the ecosystem was already difficult. 

What our industry sorely needs are platforms that can bring filtered, premium, curated inventory to the forefront. We need simplicity and control of supply strategies.

 Curation will optimize supply

It may sound counterintuitive, but by adding a curational entity to the programmatic value path, brands and publishers will finally be able to prune the supply chain in both directions. By integrating new data sets, the curator can deliver auction packages with multi-publisher deal IDs in a scaled environment at optimal prices. 

Value-chain efficiency has been one of the crying needs of our business. Effective curation will be the engine to solve for that pain point. The current marketplace rationalization is progressing toward even stricter supply path optimization imperatives led by buyers who, fed up with complex supply chains, clamor for transactions within a closed and transparent environment. In a curation model, curators aren’t adding any nodes to the supply chain. They’re just adding value.

An opportunity to boost efficiency 

I’ve been in this industry for 15 years. I’m an ad tech OG. Despite all the twists and turns and bouts of turbulence, I’m quite proud of what we have accomplished in this era. I would hate to see all the hard work and progress go awry.

I know it’s not popular to defend ad networks, but it’s only fair to give them due credit for what they brought to the programmatic era value chain. Many of them evolved into trading desks by developing a technology layer to drive innovation in business models. Ad networks were instrumental in the creation of the early yield mechanisms.  

And remember those giddy early days of waterfall optimization and passback management? They ultimately led to development of the standards that still undergird our current programmatic marketplace. 

On the flip side, however, ad networks have also caused the current runaway bloating of the supply chain and the onerous ad tech tax for publishers.

This brings us to the present opportunity: Curators are the next efficiency partners within the value chain. In a privacy-first world, curation allows for the creation and monetization of cohorts while keeping data siloed as industry clean rooms proliferate like mushrooms after a summer rain.  

It is still early days, but there is a growing cohort of curational platforms with programmatic APIs all over the place, direct integrations with buying and data platforms and strong ad quality infrastructure to protect buyers and sellers. These platforms are scaled and sport solid data infrastructures capable of heavy ad log processing and storage. They also offer strong proprietary programmatic ad analytics for partners to optimize their investments. 

The curation potential

There is no doubt this new curation model can strongly contribute to a healthier advertising industry. The infrastructure and performance expertise within curational layers are poised to add value to the extensive inventory liquidity available on programmatic platforms.

Follow Smart AdServer (@SmartAdServerEN) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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1 Comment

  1. Hi Romain, at 15 years I’d say you’re more an adtech MAG (middle-age guy). But your observations on curation are spot on. This trend has been building for some time. When I was at Mediamath I helped create the Curated Marketplace back in 2015. And at Yieldmo we’ve been building our automated curation platform for 4 years. And this is definitely the moment for curation, especially as cookies and IDs crumble and the currency of audience data becomes scarce. Real-time curation like ours is a significant enhancement of performance on Addressable inventory, and a massive performance and yield boost on non-addressable, where audience data is not available. Good article!