Are we making a meal of demand side platforms?

In this guest post, Lachlan Brae picks out the problems with online trading platforms.

Some of my best strategic planning has been accomplished over publisher lunches. Occasionally I’d even come back to the office and write up my ideas. Spending a good amount of my time in agencies pouring over menus in fancy restaurants got me to thinking of the fine dining industry as an appropriate parallel for media trading, particularly in the programmatic media space that is beginning to characterize most trading of online video.

Would you tolerate a media transaction like this?…..Imagine going to a restaurant, placing your order, the chef runs down the road to another restaurant and gets them to prepare the meal, brings it back to you, serves it with a flourish and wishes you bon appetite, charging you a tidy mark up on what is available elsewhere at lower cost and with equal value. What value is added to this transaction? Ambience? Choice? The better restaurants add most value to the already premium raw ingredients to create an outstanding dining experience.

Two things need to occur to make programmatic buying a three hat experience for all concerned:

1. Start with great raw ingredients

A Demand Side Platform (DSP) or Sell Side Platform (SSP) or exchange is only as good as the inventory it can access. The most effective supply strategies for trading desks are built from the client up, ascertaining individual client needs, aggregating audiences into commercially viable volumes from media suppliers and being clear about the expectations of performance and rate. DSPs that become a dumping ground for remnant inventory, or a backfill strategy rarely perform. This just creates unnecessary tension as planner/buyers become frustrated with poor results and media suppliers are squeezed on rate in order to try and achieve some modicum of effectiveness.

2. The DSP needs to add value

With the raw ingredients in place, the DSP and trading team need to have the capabilities and technology to manipulate, combine and enrich the ingredients with data from clients or 3rd parties, insights, means of targeting by behaviour or intention, systems and strategies to automate optimisation and overall have a clear understanding of the advertiser’s business objectives and the means to adapt the campaign, real time, to achieve them.

Without these value-adding elements, the DSP is an efficient means of accessing inventory but it doesn’t naturally translate into more effective planning, nor the means to squeeze the most value out of every impression.

Programmatic buying is not a race to the bottom – it is a platform through which we can make premium, effective inventory accessible to wider marketplaces.

So far, the dark side isn’t as dark as I thought. There’s a new delight to be found in seeing the inventive application of technology and data to our inventory and seeing a great raw product underpin a great meal. Will it be enough to supplant the indulgence of a 2005 Luis Pato ‘Vinha Pan’ at the completion of Sepia’s degustation? Not sure, check back with me in a few months after I’ve paid for a few bottles myself.

Lachlan Brae is the commercial director of digital for MCM Media


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