Introducing the Biddable IO: The Newest Programmatic Trend for 2017

By Johanna Bauman, Sr. Director of Marketing Communications, PubMatic

If 2016 was the year of the header bidding wrapper for the publisher, it follows that 2017 may very well be the year of the Biddable IO for the marketer. Since programmatic emerged as a key buying channel for marketers, an inherent trade-off has persisted between the efficiency and data-driven decisioning of automation and the transparency and guaranteed nature of the direct buy. That compromise is about to disappear.

In a new white paper, “Automating Brand Spend: The Emergence of the Biddable IO,” we examine the trends that have led to the need for this new tactic. Leveraging data from a survey of over 400 publishers and buyers as well as insights gleaned from our conversations with key industry players, the report provides context for the evolving programmatic direct landscape, and introduces the new tactic that will revolutionize the marketplace: the Biddable IO.

The Rise of Programmatic Direct

Brands are beginning to realize the value of RTB-based auctions in increasing numbers, with many touting the benefits of efficiency and audience targeting as the main drivers of the shift. As technology and quality standards for programmatic inventory improve, more brands are moving in this direction, and premium publishers are chomping at the bit to funnel this spend towards their inventory.  According to our recent survey, 83% of publishers considered programmatic direct to be an important strategy for their business in 2017.

We identified three trends driving brand spend to programmatic:

  1. The Proliferation of Header Bidding
  2. The Explosive Growth of Data Availability
  3. The Increasing Relevance of Attribution

In addition to providing an entre into automated buying for brands who had previously channeled their spend towards direct IOs, programmatic direct is also gaining popularity with the experienced programmatic buyers, as the digital advertising industry pivots back towards a focus on brand safety and inventory quality.

The Compromises of Automated Buying Channels

While providing increased inventory transparency and workflow efficiencies, existing programmatic direct channels require buyers to make compromises:

  • Private Marketplaces (PMPs) provide greater visibility and access to inventory, but do not ensure priority placement within a publisher’s ad server;
  • Private Marketplace Preferred (PMP-P) deals give buyers higher priority access to inventory, but do not contain the guarantee of inventory volume that the brands need for their forecasting;
  • Private Marketplace Guaranteed (PMP-G) deals allow that guaranteed volume buy but does ensure the guaranteed placement access of the direct buy.
  • Automated Guaranteed (AG), alternatively, provides buyers with all the benefits of the direct IO, but does not leverage the data-driven decisioning of programmatic.

The Biddable IO: The Solution to Close The Gap

Innovative buyers are starting to understand the potential that can be unlocked if they are to move their direct IOs to RTB with what we call the Biddable IO. Our survey found that 57% of buyers globally have either completed the transition of direct IOs to programmatic channels, or are in the process of moving them. The rapid adoption of header bidding has provided the foundation for greater brand access to programmatic inventory, and many are looking to take advantage of the opportunity. We believe that the emergence of the Biddable IO will signal a new era of digital media.

Download the full report by clicking here. Please feel free to reach out to discuss the report with your PubMatic account manager or contact PubMatic here and someone will follow up.

 

Quality: A Founding Principle at PubMatic

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By Anand Das, PubMatic Co-Founder & CTO

 

“Methbot.”

Identified earlier this week by White Ops, an invalid traffic detection and prevention service provider, and named for obscure references embedded in its code, “Methbot” is a sophisticated Russian botnet designed to capture digital advertising revenue by generating nonhuman traffic—mainly on video inventory. The story has dominated news coverage and conversations throughout the industry this week—and with good reason: according to reports, Methbot is “the most profitable and advanced ad fraud operation ever seen by the industry,” generating as much as 200-300 million nonhuman impressions per day and siphoning upwards of $180 million[1] from the digital media industry.

Quality in all of its various forms has been paramount since we founded PubMatic in 2006, and it remains a top priority today. In addition to continually updating our filtering and inventory quality tools proactively, we also partner with various third-party service providers to help provide the high levels of protection, visibility and transparency our customers and clients have come to expect from PubMatic over the years.

After conducting our own analysis, we’re pleased to report that the inventory and ad quality tools and processes we have in place mitigated the impact of Methbot on our publishers and demand partners. In fact, less than 0.002% of the impressions on our platform were affected, and we’re confident that we’ve succeeded in addressing the issues that are creating invalid traffic generated by this botnet scheme. Accordingly, we will be working with all of our publisher and advertiser clients to assure that we continue to provide the means to address issues such as this.

This incident highlights how important it is for all of the players in our industry to work together to ensure that we’re providing consumers with quality advertising experiences–whether we’re an SSP, DSP, DMP, ATD or any other acronym.


For more information on PubMatic’s inventory and ad quality tools, visit www.PubMatic.com or email info@pubmatic.com.

[1] http://money.cnn.com/2016/12/20/technology/ad-fraud-online-methbot/

The Fraudulent War Rages On

Eric Mischel, Senior Director of Product Management

Eric Mischel, Senior Director of Product Management

Fraud continues to be one of the greatest concerns in the digital advertising space. Despite the progress that has been made, our industry evolves at a rapid pace, which led to the emergence of new deceptive practices. As a result, buyers still have quality concerns around due to the presence of botnets, pixel stuffing, domain spoofing, and ad stacking – let alone the complex issues of spurious content.

Over the past year, buyers, DSPs, and some exchange platforms called for the industry to start policing itself. In fact, as recently as December of 2015 a study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) found that advertising fraud cost advertisers $8.2 billion per year—with $4.2 billion lost to “nonhuman traffic,” $1.1 billion lost to “malvertising-related activities” and the remaining $2.4 billion lost due to “infringed content.”[1] It’s no surprise then that the buy-side of the industry was up at arms over these issues.

As tools became available from companies like Integral Ad Science (IAS), ForensIQ, White Ops, MOAT and various others, SSPs and publishers began scanning their inventory and removing the majority of suspicious and malicious impression requests.

These efforts provided industry-wide benefits. As inventory is scanned and turns out to be quality rather than fraud, buyers’ trust in the publishers in question inevitably increases. This trust in turn results in demand partners increasing their willingness to buy a publisher’s inventory, as they can be more secure in how their campaigns are targeted and delivered.

Despite initial pushback from publishers due to the increased cost and the complexity of scanning and qualifying their inventory, we are seeing more publishers begin to comply with buyers’ demands as proof that advertiser spend will shift away from questionable inventory to verified inventory continues to stack up.

Fraud and Quality: Not One-Way Streets

While the sell-side of the industry made large strides in verifying the quality of their inventory in response to requests from the demand side of the industry, these actions have been rather one-sided to date. Malware, spoofed landing pages, unidentified creative attributes and various other nefarious things continue to flow forth from the buy-side.

Malware and other fraudulent activity is a danger to all parties within digital advertising, with cascading effects. Not only can a user’s device become infected via malware, for example, they also are likely to install an ad blocker, or to avoid a publisher’s site entirely as a result of other fraudulent activities. This causes a reduction in inventory volume, which can in turn reduce not only a publisher’s revenue, but also their trust in programmatic and potentially lead them to move back towards ‘safer’ direct sales models.

The issues compound as SSPs and exchanges are forced to build out additional tools to throttle back DSPs in an effort to maintain quality on their platforms based on aggregated advertiser data. Unscrupulous advertisers are running campaigns that knowingly disrupt the user experience or spoof landing pages in an attempt to fool publisher-implemented block lists. In the end, quality advertisers can get caught in the slurry, losing access to high-value inventory because of the actions of other, nefarious buyers that happen to be utilizing the same platforms.

At the same time, while the OpenRTB standard the majority of buyers use allows creative attributes to be passed to SSPs, they are almost universally not being passed. The OpenRTB standard also allows for SSPs to provide creative restrictions to DSPs and buyers, but this information is passed it’s often ignored. As a result, SSPs were forced to develop their own solutions in order to protect their publishers from creative formats that are likely to interfere with the way in which publishers intend their content to be consumed (one of the greatest sins publishers can commit in the eyes of consumers, who have little to no tolerance for interruptions to their user experience).

At PubMatic, we not only developed our own solutions, but also partnered with outside companies to handle Abhorrent Advertiser Activity, and we’re not alone in doing so. We, and other platforms, employ teams of people dedicated to finding and stopping ‘bad ads’. But these are just Band-Aids that treat the symptoms of the problem rather than addressing the real causes. While we can pre-scan demand to ensure compliance, we must both identify and classify before we can perform any comparison. Until we treat the source of these issues, we will remain in a reactive state.

A Long-Term Solution is Needed—and Does Exist

Just as SSPs and publishers implemented tools and established processes to police inventory, DSPs and buyers must do the same and help to eliminate questionable advertising. While the tools to achieve this exist today, we need to ensure that our technologies, processes and policies allow us to take advantage of them. Self-serve platforms must implement a layer of creative approval. Buyers and advertisers must register their creative attributes, for all creatives, as well as the actual landing page, and the advertiser name needs to be passed in all bid responses. These three reasonable actions, all of which are supported by the existing OpenRTB protocol, are all that is required to show good faith in the eyes of the publisher community.

An open, fair and transparent market requires that both sides see exactly what is being bought and sold. Publishers and SSPs have done their part, and now we ask the same from the demand side.

We urge those companies on the buy-side of our industry to take steps towards advertiser transparency under the banner of publisher confidence. Programmatic buying, in all its forms, is at risk whenever malware or an explicitly forbidden creative is served. While no solution will be 100% effective, any effort from the demand side to address the root of the problem will have positive effects. The inclusion of creative attributes and correct, transparent, landing page URLs will both reduce brand control violations and provide additional targeting data to buyers to help their own spending decisions.

At PubMatic, we continue to improve both our internal processes as well as our products and solutions, while also partnering with the best industry solutions for identifying and counteracting malware and other fraudulent activity. We continue to strive to provide the highest quality demand while abiding by our publishers’ creative restrictions. In this ever-evolving world of digital advertising we will remain vigilant. We ask that you do the same.

To find out more about PubMatic’s Ad Inventory and Quality tools, part of the company’s revenue management platform, SEVEN, contact your PubMatic Account Manager or email info@pubmatic.com.

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2016/01/06/the-8-2-billion-adtech-fraud-problem-that-everyone-is-ignoring/

PubAcademy: Education Through Engagement

Emma Newman, Vice President of Marketing, International

This post authored by Emma Newman, Country Manager, UK

At a time when many of the technology providers in our industry are beginning to look alike, true differentiation is defined by openness and partnership. Tech vendors must have their customers’ best interests in mind (rather than being focused on their own, potentially competing interests) and should be able to provide education and strategy that will help their customers reach their business goals rather than focusing solely on the nuts and bolts of the technology they provide.

At PubMatic, we understand the value that is unlocked when we listen to customers and respond to their needs through innovation and communication. This ensures that they are in the best position to achieve their individual business goals and address the unique set of challenges each face. A key element to making this work is knowledge sharing, and our global educational forum PubAcademy is just one example of how we bring our beliefs to life in a tangible, meaningful way for our customers, clients and partners.

PubAcademy began in 2014 as a response to a series of direct requests from UK publishers that wanted to better understand the programmatic landscape and viewed PubMatic as the right partner to help them do so. And last month, PubAcademy had the distinction of celebrating its 25th event as well as the achievement of holding three successful events on three different continents (Australia, Europe and North America) within a 48-hour period. Over the two years since its inception, PubAcademy (formerly known as “Publisher Academy”) has covered dozens of hot industry topics, such as ad blocking, header bidding, programmatic mobile and ad serving.

The Evolution of ‘Publisher Academy’ and Birth of ‘PubAcademy’

In October 2014, we launched our Publisher Academy in London, featuring an intimate environment designed to encourage open dialogue among attendees. Following the event, attendees were encouraged to network with one another over drinks, giving them time to share and debate best practices, challenges and solutions in an open environment.

The response to this first event was overwhelmingly positive, and it quickly became clear that we had hit upon a good format for these discussions. This positive momentum carried us into 2015, and we rolled the program out across Europe in Italy, Germany and Sweden. While moving into new markets, we also continued to hold our monthly Publisher Academy events in the UK, securing speakers ranging from Amir Malik, Programmatic Director, Trinity Mirror PLC; Wayne Blodwell, Founder & CEO at The Programmatic Advisory; and Chris Arnold, Founder, Creative Orchestra to discuss myriad important industry topics, such as mobile creativity, data activation and of course, header bidding.

pubacademy-map

Early 2016 saw the expansion of our Publisher Academy events to APAC, with forums in Singapore and Delhi where clients, partners and prospects discussed header bidding. By this time, our audience makeup had shifted to include media buyers and tech vendors in addition to publishers—ultimately making for a more interesting and fruitful discussion for everyone in attendance. As we readied for our initial US event during Advertising Week in New York City—bringing the subject of header bidding to the week’s conversations with representatives from Gannett, MediaMath and Rocket Fuel—we decided that we needed to brand these events, and that the branding should reflect the varied audiences we now have in attendance.

Thus ‘PubAcademy’ was born.

One of the uniques selling propositions of PubAcademy is that it not only began in response to requests from our publishers, but that the topics we choose to address are customer-led and reflect the challenges they face on a daily basis or questions they have in response to industry topics. In other words, it’s not a sales pitch, a fact that helps us maintain the integrity of the conversations we have at each event.

What’s Next? PubAcademy Goes Real-Time

pubacademylogouniversal-01One universal truth about the advertising technology industry is that it never stands still, meaning that initiatives like PubAcademy are vital if our customers are going to be in the best position to navigate this ever changing landscape.

For that reason, we’ll continue to invest in PubAcademy, expanding the brand globally by launching in Japan in early 2017. We’ll also be extending the reach of PubAcademy beyond those locales where we have a physical presence through development of a dedicated PubAcademy section on our website. This will ensure that customers and partners can access this resource wherever they are, whenever they want.

As we move through Q4 of this year, we’re looking forward to more successful PubAcademy events around the globe in 2017. Stay tuned for details on the next event in your region; we hope to see you all there!


 

To find out more about PubMatic’s PubAcademy events, including when the next one will be held in your region, or to suggest a topic or speaker for a PubAcademy session, email PubAcademy@PubMatic.com

Wrapper Solutions Are Putting Publishers Back In Control of Inventory Management

wrapper solutions

Publishers grapple with various challenges in ad serving as they strive to take back control of ad decisioning. PubMatic is dedicated to servicing the needs of premium publishers, and recently released the white paper, “Lessons Learned in Header Bidding,” highlighting best practices in header bidding.

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6 Lessons Behind Every Successful Header Bidding Strategy

header bidding

To header bid, or not to header bid? That has been the question on the minds of premium publishers over the past year as the programmatic tactic header bidding has permeated the media industry. Last year, PubMatic released the white paper, “Decision Manager: Your Inventory. Your Rules.,” that addressed the ways in which header bidding can solve key challenges for publishers, primarily created by the outdated “waterfall” process in inventory management. This year, we’re taking a look back at header bidding successes and challenges over the past twelve months in a white paper titled, Lessons Learned in Header Bidding.

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The Perfect Marriage – Programmatic Advertising and Presidential Campaigns

political advertising

With Super Tuesday behind us, and the primaries heating up, candidate’s ability to leverage the power of programmatic advertising has never been more critical. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have emerged as the frontrunners for their respective parties, but other contending candidates remain in the race, and they need to have the right strategy in place if they want to come within reach of the oval office.

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Header Bidding

header bidding

By Evan Krauss, VP Publisher Development, Americas and
Nishant Khatri, Director, Product Management

Over the last six months or so, header bidding has been a hot topic in ad tech industry circles, with headlines spanning from explanations of what header bidding is (e.g. WTF is header bidding) to strong arguments for or against the marketing tactic (e.g. 50 percent CPM uplift from header bidding and Publishers weigh the downsides to header bidding).

To level-set, header bidding is a programmatic advertising tactic implemented by a publisher to elicit more bids on its ad inventory. This is executed through an on-page piece of JavaScript code in the “header” of a publisher’s website—thus the term, “header” bidding. While this concept isn’t a new or remarkable breakthrough in innovation, some are heralding it as a game-changing booster of CPMs, while others are skeptical and wary of the effect the practice will have on page load times and technical upkeep.

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Going Once…Going Twice… SOLD to the Header Bidder!

By Evan Krauss, VP Publisher Development, Americas

At the recent Ad Revenue Europe conference in London a group of senior publisher executives debated the current state of inventory allocation, and how publishers view the legacy waterfall and the more current header bidding technologies. During the panel, Ed Thomas, Head of Audience for Skimlinks, stated, “We’re working with publishers to identify what that loss [from using waterfalls] looks like, and in some cases it’s colossal – as much as 50%.” Although the waterfall tactic—i.e. when a publisher’s ad server sequentially calls on demand sources in predetermined priority—once seemed like a logical solution for yield management, in practice, waterfalls lead to lost revenue and operational inefficiencies.

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