Three Reasons Why Private Marketplaces Are So Popular With Buyers & Publishers


By John Stoneman, VP EMEA

As programmatic advertising continues to grow globally, its growth in many markets is partially fueled by the rise of private marketplaces. In its early years, the word “programmatic” solely meant the buying and selling of advertising inventory in a real-time open auction. Recently, however, we have witnessed the rise of invitation-only programmatic marketplaces called private marketplaces. These private marketplaces (PMPs) provide publishers with the ability to designate certain parts of their advertising inventory to a select buyer or group of buyers, which differs from the open auction where the advertising inventory is open to all bidders.

In the U.S., the market where programmatic got its start, private marketplaces have grown massively in popularity. PMP is projected to account for 28% of an $11.8 billion programmatic market by 2016 up from just 2.0% in 2013, according to eMarketer.

Here are three reasons why PMPs have become a favorite of so many buyers and premium publishers.


PMPs allow publishers to determine the buyers or advertisers that will be allowed to bid on certain parts of their inventory. This control often means that publishers feel more comfortable about selling their premium inventory programmatically, since they have selected the advertisers that they are offering it to. It’s the type of control that buyers and publishers have always had during the traditional direct sales process and PMP can bring it to programmatic.

PMPs provide buyers with added inventory transparency as being part of a PMP means they will have already identified a publisher they are comfortable buying from. PMPs also provide buyers with access to some types of premium inventory that may not be available in open auction. Finally, PMPs provide premium publishers with an extra level of confidence about the creative that will appear on their digital properties, helping to address any concerns they have around brand safety.

Workflow Automation

PMPs offer the superior workflow automation that is the hallmark of programmatic advertising when compared with traditional direct sales. Both publishers and buyers benefit by significantly reducing the traditionally time-consuming process required to execute traditional direct sales.


PMPs allow publishers and buyers to extend an existing direct relationship into programmatic. As more inventory is bought programmatically, PMP is an easy way for both buyers and sellers to maintain the rewards of an existing direct sales relationship whilst at the same time benefiting from the efficiency and effectiveness of programmatic execution.

Programmatic is exploding globally, estimated to reach 48% of all global digital display spending this year. As that growth continues, PMPs will play a significant role as buyers and publishers seek to take advantage of its benefits as we move further into the age of programmatic.

Click the hyperlinks to learn more about PubMatic’s PMP and programmatic direct offerings for publishers and buyers.

Three Things Publishers Need To Consider for Holistic Inventory Management


By Ben Skolnik, Senior Director Platform Solutions

As publishers continue to look for efficiencies in their advertising sales strategy by opening up programmatic sales, one of the key challenges they face is finding a way to manage all revenue channels holistically. In just a few years, programmatic has grown from a relatively small portion of the inventory most publishers sell to become a significant part of their revenue picture. In 2015, globally, programmatic is expected to reach 48 percent of total display ad spend and by 2018 the U.S. figure is forecasted to reach 82 percent of all display ad spend according to Magna Global.

While many publishers have developed a sophisticated technology stack that helps them to package, offer and sell their inventory programmatically, they are in many cases still working to address the internal challenges that may impede their ability to manage sales holistically. While the fast changing ad sales market offers a host of change management issues for publishers here are three things every publisher should consider when they are evaluating how to navigate the complexity of multiple sales channels.

Sales Workflow

As publishers continue to grow their direct sales efforts as well as manage external programmatic partnerships, there are some workflow practices that need to be reconciled in order to most effectively manage all of the demand they see. This can include CRM, inventory management, ad trafficking and billing systems. It is not unusual – and often required – for publishers to use different systems and processes across their programmatic versus traditional direct sales efforts. However, in order to truly manage and optimize across all sales channels publishers will need to drive consistency in how they apply their workflow systems to programmatic sales and traditional direct sales. In the current state, platforms that support programmatic transaction offer a level of data transparency that allows for seamless alignment with the direct channel in order to help unify both efforts. The goal is to ensure that one side informs the other as comprehensively as possible.

For example, a publisher may license a third party CRM platform to maintain a database of information about its advertiser and media buyer partnerships. This data will help provide valuable insights for their lead generation efforts. At the same time, data on advertiser or media buyer relationships coming in via programmatic sales also represents a lead generation opportunity but such data is often not captured by the current CRM platform. Therefore, this publisher may want to consider how this programmatic data might be merged into the same CRM system that houses the data gathered from traditional direct sales.

Rate Card Management and Pricing

Rate card pricing models have been used for many decades to guide upfronts and direct sales, long before the advent of programmatic. Yet with many advertisers and agencies now purchasing ad inventory from the same publisher both programmatically and directly, these buyers have the advantage of using the intelligence derived from a publisher’s rate card as well as the price floors and other pricing queues found through the programmatic channel. There is an opportunity for publishers to leverage both sets of sales data about their packaging and pricing to fully understand their demand landscape and optimize their revenue strategy. For example, many savvy publishers will use bid price, bid “density” (the volume of buyers and bids) and the resulting auction close price to understand how buyers are valuing impressions on the basis of context, audience or other forms of targeting. This allows them to gain significant insights that allow for a more dynamic pricing strategy where the direct rate card pricing is informed by buying behavior across all channels.

Sales Team Compensation Plans and Commissions

One of the challenges many publishers face is managing the impact of channel conflict on their direct sales team’s efforts. As many ad sales executives rely on commissions from direct sales as a significant part of their compensation, the concept of “cannibalization” often comes up as a concern when the share of programmatic buying grows, especially when some of the same advertisers appear through indirect channels. Some publishers have started to address this by using the data transparency coming from programmatic platforms to understand which advertisers are running through multiple channels, and then building a compensation plan for their direct sales team that is tied to programmatic sales activity.

With many resources available to get over the challenges preventing truly holistic advertising sales, the biggest challenge is to manage the change process itself. The buying landscape is changing rapidly. However, the tools are there to allow publishers to make the most of their inventory assets, drive the greatest possible value to their available advertising real estate, and stay ahead of the shift in the market.

The ABCs of Programmatic Final Segment (R-Y)

ABCs Image

In the fourth and final installment of our ABCs of Programmatic Series – where we try to help demystify programmatic by defining some of its most frequently used buzzwords – we define terms from “R” through “Y” taking us from Real-Time Analytics through Yield Management.

  • Real-Time Analytics: Dynamic analysis and reporting that users can access in the moment that the original data is captured from campaign or inventory performance by the system. This allows publishers and buyers to make decisions with real-time insights as events happen.
  • Retargeting: A technique that uses information about a consumer’s web browsing habits to re-send an advertisement to them on a different publisher’s website. This is achieved through pixel tagging or other code that enables a publisher to recognize a particular user. Source: IAB, PubMatic
  • Rich Media: Advertisements that users can interact with in a web page format, often in conjunction with advanced technology such as streaming video, for example.
  • Real-Time Bidding (RTB): A technology protocol that enables the buying and selling of online ad impressions through instantaneous auctions, facilitated by ad exchanges or demand and supply-side platforms. Source: Digiday, PubMatic
  • Spot Buying: Transactions that exist within an exchange environment with pre-negotiated, fixed pricing (CPM, CPC, etc.). Typically, these are given a higher priority than open marketplace or Private Marketplace transactions. These types of deals are the result of advertiser demand for a more predictable offering within the exchange space. Source: PubMatic 2015 Programmatic Outlook Report
  • Supply-Side Platform (SSP): A technology platform that provides a publisher with brand control, pricing and packaging tools and reporting capabilities in order to help them to manage their inventory assets in a programmatic advertising world; also known as a “sell-side platform.” Source: IAB
  • Third-Party Data: User data that is collected, repackaged, and processed by companies that track and analyze consumer characteristics or preferences. This information can be used for future ad targeting and digital marketing purposes. Source: IAB, PubMatic
  • VAST (Video Ad Serving Template): A standardized communication method that informs an ad server every time a video ad is played. This method is specifically designed for popular on-demand video players where ad responses are measured by each video play, but are not an executable ad format. Source: IAB, PubMatic
  • Viewability: An online advertising metric that aims to track only impressions that are seen by consumers. For example, if an ad is loaded below the fold of a web page and the user does not scroll to view it, the ad is deemed as not viewable.
  • VPAID (Video Player-Ad API Definition): Establishes a common interface between video players and ad units, enabling a rich, interactive in-stream ad experience. This standard intends to meet the needs of emerging in-stream ad formats such as non-linear video ads, and interactive video ads. Source: IAB, PubMatic
  • Wearables: Electronic technologies or computers that are incorporated into items of clothing and accessories that can be worn comfortably on the body. Examples include the Apple Watch, FitBit heath tracking devices, Pebble watches, and Google Glass, among many others; also known as “wearable technology” or “wearable devices.” Source: PubMatic,
  • Whitelist: For Advertisers: A list of websites that an advertiser will permit their ads to be placed on. For Publishers: A list of the advertisers that a publisher will permit to have access to see and bid on their inventory.
  • Yield Management: Aggregating consumer behavior in order to better understand, influence, and ultimately anticipate their preferences. In doing so, advertisers will better target and package inventory to maximize potential profit. Source: IAB

Three Forces Driving The Marriage of Mobile & Programmatic

Mobile Blog ImageProgrammatic and mobile seem destined to be together. It’s difficult to name two other technological trends that have done more to disrupt the established order in advertising and media over the past three years. This year, 55 percent of all digital display ads in the U.S. will be bought programmatically up from just 24 percent in 2013, according to eMarketer. At the same time, U.S. Internet users now spend the majority of their time consuming digital media on a mobile device, according to comScore.

Earlier this year, we conducted a survey of PubMatic publishers and buyers asking a series of questions about mobile advertising. Even as it’s clear that mobile and programmatic are on an obvious collision course, we wanted to find out what was happening in the market from the perspective of its day-to-day participants.

We asked our customers to tell us what they felt were the specific factors spurring the growth of mobile programmatic. Here is what they had to say.

Top 3 Factors Spurring the Growth of Mobile Programmatic

  • The Growth of Private Marketplaces: 66 percent of customers indicated that the ability to transact mobile media in private marketplaces (PMPs) has helped foster the growth of mobile programmatic more than any other factor. Indeed, PMP provides buyers transparency about the publishers they are buying from programmatically and at the same time it allows publishers to continue to have a more direct relationship with their buyers than traditional open RTB. Therefore, it’s no wonder that PMP has been a preferred environment for buyers and sellers when it comes to an emerging platform, like mobile. PMP growth is not only limited to mobile. Indeed, eMarketer projects that PMP will account for 28 percent of programmatic spending by 2016, up from just 2 percent in 2013.
  • Use of New and Innovative Formats: 55 percent of customers also cited the growth of new and innovative formats as contributing significantly to the growth of mobile programmatic. These formats would no doubt include native ads, which is set to grow to $21 billion in U.S. ad spend by 2018 up from $4.7 billion in 2013, according to Business Insider. Many native ad units are designed to be in-feed or integrated as snippets of text and images that are especially seamless and effective when served within the context of a consumer’s mobile experience.
  • Surge In Advertiser Demand: Advertising spend inevitably chases consumers and mobile media doesn’t seem to be an exception to this well-established rule. As Mary Meeker pointed out last month, mobile is only 8 percent of ad spend, while consumer time spent on mobile is 24 percent. This equals a $25B opportunity as advertisers catch-up to the consumer. So it is no surprise that 80 percent of our survey respondents expect mobile ad spending to increase.

Mobile advertising needs to scale quickly and programmatic technology is designed to handle massive scale. With the help of PMP, the wide adoption of new mobile friendly formats and the need for ad spend to follow consumers, it looks like mobile programmatic has all of the key ingredients that will drive its growth for the foreseeable future.

Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need to Know About Viewability


There may be no bigger hot button issue in digital advertising right now than ad viewability. Every industry event seems to have at least one panel discussion focused on the topic and there’s been an endless stream of commentary on the issue in the media. Yet for a subject that receives so much attention there’s still a great deal of confusion surrounding it.

That’s why we put together a “cheat sheet” for everything you need to know—but might’ve been afraid to ask–about viewability.

What is viewability?

“Viewability” is an online advertising metric that tracks only impressions actually seen by users. For example, if an ad is loaded at the bottom of a webpage but a user doesn’t scroll down far enough to see it, that impression is not considered viewable.

Is there an agreed upon definition of viewable?

There are two main governing bodies pushing for a standardized definition of viewability: the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Media Rating Council (MRC). Digital media differs from other forms of media in that ad effectiveness is measured on an impression-by-impression basis. Traditional media such as TV commercials use measurement based on averages, such as how often a commercial is played on TV. Because digital media is measured on an impression-by-impression basis, it is not enough to serve the ad for it to be considered effective. The ads must also be seen.

For display ads, the IAB and MRC define a “viewable” impression as one that is at least 50 percent visible for a minimum of one continuous second. For video ads, it is defined as 50 percent visible for at least two seconds. “50 percent visible” means that 50 percent of the ad’s pixels appear above the fold.

Are there other standards of viewability?

Viewability is a growing concern among advertisers because non-viewable impressions can be considered an ineffective use of budgets. A survey conducted by Integral Ad Science (IAS) in December 2014 showed that 78 percent of advertisers surveyed felt that the IAB and MRC standards for viewability were not strict enough. In the case of video, for example, the IAB and MRC standards do not take into account whether the sound is on for an ad, which can detract from the ad’s effectiveness. Many advertisers have therefore begun implementing their own metrics for viewability.

How much of a problem are non-viewable impressions in the industry?

Even using IAB’s and MRC’s current standards, eMarketer estimates that only 50 percent of ads served on desktop are considered viewable. Mobile performs better by consistently achieving 70 percent or higher in viewable ads, but viewability remains a hot button issue in part because so few marketers agree on or even know what current viewability standards are. Recent research from Econsultancy found that 43 percent of senior marketers in the US and UK use viewability to determine the success of their programmatic ad campaigns, while research by firm SQAD found that nearly half of the marketers it surveyed thought that the minimum amount of time a video should be displayed for it to be considered viewable was five seconds or more—over twice the current standard.

What is PubMatic’s approach to viewability?

At PubMatic we have decided to tackle the viewability issue head-on in a transparent way we believe will help both buyers and publishers. We recently signed an agreement with Integral Ad Science (IAS) that will allow us to provide viewability metrics to both our publishers and demand partners.

Today, many of PubMatic’s demand partners already use a third-party tool to help measure viewability. What makes PubMatic different is that we plan to have IAS scores passed on to the publishers—not just media buyers. Our publishers will be able to use this data to create Private Marketplace offerings for their most viewable ad inventory, for example. Since viewable ads help marketers achieve their campaign goals by showing ads to audiences, they’re frequently willing to offer a higher bid for viewable inventory. Offering packages of their most viewable inventory is a great way for publishers to maximize the value of their digital assets. It also provides buyers transparency into inventory that they haven’t had to this point.

To learn more about PubMatic’s Brand Shield solutions click here.

Don’t Worry, Be Relevant!


kmBy Kirk McDonald, President of PubMatic

This piece originally appeared on The Drum.

Technology usually accelerates everything that it touches.  This acceleration leads many of us to do a lot of fretting about the sudden changes technology brings to our culture, habits, businesses and economy.  Therefore, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised at all by any of the hand wringing over the impact of technology on the media and advertising business.

In the 1800’s, people worried that the telegraph would corrupt our youth and disrupt polite society – yet we somehow survived. A few decades ago, these concerns were re-run as the world came to terms with a then new technology called television. Today, some again lament the supposed decline of culture, journalism and civilized discourse in the digital age, and the very future of the media and advertising businesses even as they work to find sustainable responses to “digital disruption”.

As we embark on our annual pilgrimage to Cannes, the truth is that our industry will do more than survive, it will thrive as technology creates new opportunities to deliver better experiences for customers – and improves the health of our businesses.  So if I may, we would all do well to take the sage advice of the songwriter Bobby McFerrin, with a twist: “Don’t Worry, Be Relevant.

It’s not the technology that anyone should be worried about.  The real challenge is relevance. With more impressions on more screens and in more places than ever before, it’s a tremendously exciting time for marketing. However, being an impressive impression demands a new set of skills, data and technology.  For the consumer, marketing is becoming less intrusive and more helpful.  The promise of a relevant message tailored inside a media environment consumers are largely curating for themselves is the new reality. New skills and imagination are required for us to capture attention in the moment when consumers express their intention.  This is a much more purposeful moment and requires a more thoughtful engagement.

Not everyone will find a significant role in the media world where relevance is king.  As the advertising and media businesses shift to a new paradigm organized around data and technology, some players will have to exit stage left, as they are simply unable to evolve their businesses to meet the challenge. Others will emerge and thrive as they embrace the more fluid and effective ways to understand and connect with their consumer.  We should expect some bad actors along the way, who will try to exploit this period of accelerated innovation to use technology, data and automation to arbitrage on the ignorance of others.  They’re a distraction and a problem, and will have to be weeded out.  In these cases, technology is not the problem it’s the people behind the machines. However, for the rest of the industry there is so much more to be celebrated as we engage consumers in more relevant ways.

Technology and data are enabling content producers to be more relevant to their readers and viewers, and the publishers to package and sell advertising inventory in a way that is more relevant to the buyers. The virtual chain of relevancy continues as data and technology also allows advertisers to cut through the proverbial noise and clutter to make each impression matter more.  So even in a world where there is an almost infinite supply of non-differentiated advertising impressions, technology and data are enabling relevancy to become the new model for differentiation and value.

For us at PubMatic, we’re excited to be the technology provider offering the marketing automation software for publishers to manage their inventory, and for buyers to discover and plan their media campaign strategies. Our industry is at a very critical stage. Our sustainable response to the digital disruption will come from our ability to create relevance in the moment. The concept of “real-time advertising” might have to be amended to the idea of “right-time advertising”, “right-time messaging,” “right-time creative” and “right-time consumer experience.” This sustainable model will ultimately flow from our embrace of data and technology  and the skilled ability to use them to create right-time relevance for the consumer’s media and advertising experience. So, again in the words of Bobby McFerrin: Don’t Worry, Be Relevant!

Counting Down to Cannes 2015: Discover What’s Possible with PubMatic


In just a few days, PubMatic employees from across our global network of offices will board flights bound for the beautiful Côte d’Azur to attend the annual Cannes Lions festival. PubMatic is proud to be a part of the Cannes Lions a fourth year. This year at Cannes we are planning on unveiling some new initiatives and products as well as meet with industry leaders and discuss the future of media and advertising.

While the PubMatic team will be attending many of the week’s events, throughout the festival you will always find members of our team in the Sean Connery Suite at the Carlton Hotel located on the main Croisette. Feel free to stop in, grab a cocktail and hang out on the terrace or schedule a one on one meeting with President Kirk McDonald. To schedule a meeting click here.

Also please be sure to attend the “Chasing Unicorns” panel discussion on Tuesday, June 23 featuring Kirk McDonald and several other industry leaders, which will examine how today’s media, advertising, and technology companies are finding and keeping their talent. Adweek’s Editorial Director James Cooper will moderate the panel. More details here:

We hope to see you at Cannes!

The Elements of the New Sales Organization for Publishers


By Evan Adlman, VP Publisher Development, Americas

For most publishers, the last decade has been one of unprecedented change and upheaval. The rapid proliferation of ad formats, ad channels and the evolution to a real-time ad sales market has changed publishing in ways that even the industry’s smartest minds could never have predicted. While the core fundamentals of creating content and then monetizing the audience drawn to that content by making it available to advertisers remains the same, the way all of this is done has quickly changed.

That significant change would seem to beg an obvious question: if the business environment that publishers are operating in has changed so dramatically what is changing inside the publishing companies themselves? It should come as no surprise that the skillset of the folks driving sales and revenue inside publishers has changed. Here’s a quick overview of what has happened.

The Sales Team

First things first, sales organizations are still all about sales and relationships. The cliché has always been that the proverbial three-martini lunch or steak dinner with agency clients will seal the deal. While the new tech-focused environment has made many think that paradigm is over, there will likely always be a place for building and maintaining relationships with larger advertisers.

That said, technology will continue to play a bigger and bigger role in the ad sales process. By 2018, $53 billion of all global ad spend will be spent programmatically, according to Magna Global. Still traditional direct buying will continue to be a significant part of the market as well. So publishers need a sales force that is comfortable having a holistic discussion (direct and programmatic) with clients. Many publishers have initiated trainings to ensure that their sales force has a mindset that allows them to be comfortable in those discussions.

Yield Management

Beyond the sales force, publishers need to make sure they have the right mix of folks that understand the ins-and-outs of the data and technology involved in running a publishing business in real-time.

One of the key needs are people that at a micro level can optimize how a publisher’s inventory is packaged and sold. These folks are often math and data focused professionals or the so-called “quants” that are able to get into the details of the data and find ways to increase yield and revenue.

Technology Management

The final piece is a team that understands how all of the technology pieces fit together and how to manage them as a functioning tech stack. This team should be able to determine the type of solutions a publisher needs to be effective including essentials like their SSP and DMP and the other necessary pieces to build out a full programmatic stack. This team should be able to evaluate platforms and solutions from a technological perspective and determine the best current mix and also anticipate how the technology may change in near term.

As publishers adapt to a world that is moving at the speed of real-time, succeeding in this dynamic market will often mean getting it right internally. While not all publishers will be able to execute this change management exercise at the same rate, the market is making it imperative that publishers evaluate the skill mix of their staff on an a consistent basis.

Why Now is The Time for Programmatic Native


By Graham Mosley, Senior Director of Native at PubMatic

Native advertising is one of the most exciting developments in the digital advertising world over the last few years. While there’s been some debate about the exact definition of “native advertising,” it has largely been adopted as an umbrella term for long-form branded content, or “advertorials,” sponsored video, traditional ad units that mimic the design of the surrounding page, and other forms of sponsored content. To many people, the term “native” has come to describe any advertising designed to integrate seamlessly into the user experience. At PubMatic, when we talk about “programmatic native,” we are talking about snippet or teaser in-feed ad units themselves, not the branded content that they may lead to after the click.

Native is an appealing format for several reasons. It’s engaging in ways that traditional banner ads aren’t. It breaks through consumers’ blindness to banners and marketing fatigue. It’s a natural fit for mobile – in fact, you could call it the first “mobile born” format. When done well, native sits perfectly within a media ecosystem powered by cross-device usage, social sharing and the popularity of short-form content snippets. This enables new creative possibilities for brands.

Because native promises a seamless user experience, it is seen by many as a “bespoke” format. Most early branded stories or paid posts were lovingly hand-crafted one at a time, which led to inevitable questions about scalability. Since native must be so tied to the design and structure of a publisher’s site in order to provide a coherent content experience, is it even possible to scale native advertising?

We are just now starting to get past this perceptual gap and move into a world where native can increase its reach, scale and efficiency dramatically by leveraging standard categories and programmatic infrastructure.

In February of this year, the IAB released OpenRTB 2.3, which includes native, and updated its Native Advertising Playbook, demonstrating that the format doesn’t have to be as artisanal as it appears. In fact, nearly all native advertising falls into one of these standard categories, the Core Six:


  • In-Feed Units – These ads are integrated into a site’s so-called news feed. This format originated on social media sites but is becoming more common across publisher sites.
  • Paid Search Units – These ads are served to consumers on search engines related to the consumer’s search terms, most often served alongside organic search results.
  • Recommendation Widgets – These units are integrated into the main well of the page and does not mimic the appearance of the editorial content. It is often presented with language that includes “You might also like” or “You might like.”
  • Promoted Listings – These units are found on sites that often don’t have traditional editorial content; they are common on e-commerce sites like Amazon or Etsy.
  • In-Ad with Native Elements – This is an ad in a standard IAB container placed outside of the editorial well and contains relevant content within the ad as well as links to an offsite page.
  • Custom (None of the Above) – This category is the catchall for any other type of native units the industry can conceive.

The IAB does not dictate the components or creative assets associated with each of the five native categories, but they all utilize the same general assets. This allows buyers to construct a general native campaign with these assets and buy at scale using programmatic technology because standardization means a much larger pool of native inventory available for purchase.

Until recently, most native efforts were developed by point solutions or special platforms custom-built by individual publishers. Now with emerging standardization, we will see a shift in the way native campaigns are executed, one that resembles the shift in traditional ads away from individual ad networks to a more open and integrated exchange of inventory that can be bought and sold programmatically.

Native is a new and emerging world that requires a new type of campaign workflow and asset management. These workflows and management processes need to match publishers’ varying ad sizes. However, now that we have the common framework for the connections and categories of native, we are prepared to connect buyers and sellers together at scale, unlocking the true promise of programmatic native: highly effective and targeted advertising that can reach large audiences in real-time.

To learn more about PubMatic’s platform for native advertising, click here.