AdExchanger: Agency Demands for Transparency Have Lasting Ramifications For Sell-Side Tech

Andrew Casale and Indexers in a meeting room

Change or die

SSPs and exchanges must comply with agency demands, or risk having their pipes turned off.

Platforms with connections into premium publishers work closely with agencies. Rubicon Project, which helped Havas develop its code of conduct, eliminated buy-side fees in 2017 in response to demands for more transparency.

“The industry is learning there’s no need for this vast number of exchanges and SSPs,” said Adam Soroca, head of Rubicon Project’s global buyer team. “Buyers are going to put money through the channels they trust. So, whatever they’re looking for, we provide.”

PubMatic is also responding to agency demands, recently inking a deal with Goodway Group that lets the agency control its buy-side fees as it increases spending through the exchange.

“SSPs and exchanges that do not meet [agency] standards will struggle,” said Kyle Dozeman, VP of advertiser solutions at PubMatic, in an email to AdExchanger.

AppNexus worked with GroupM to find low-fee paths to supply. In December 2018, it reworked the majority of its publisher contracts so it could reveal its tech fees to buyers. And Index Exchange offers a portal where advertisers can access granular impression, revenue and bid cycle data as well as performance metrics.

Sell-side platforms can stand out with good customer service or by sharing more data with buyers. While this may not differentiate them in the long term, “it could be advantageous if they are ahead of the curve,” said Essence’s Hernandez.

But as agencies continue to probe the supply chain, the future of SSPs and exchanges may resemble ad networks’ consolidation circa 2010, as advertisers moved to programmatic and those that couldn’t adapt withered. And while getting rid of players that don’t add value is good for the ecosystem, it could push more spend toward Facebook, Amazon and Google, which have access to unique supply and leverage to offer bundled deals across their stacks.

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