We recently sat down with Tim Sims, GM of Inventory Partnerships at The Trade Desk, to chat about the buy-side perspective on private marketplaces and get recommendations from the fastest growing demand-side platform in the industry. As an AdTech veteran that now leads The Trade Desk’s strategy and vision to create cutting-edge supply-side collaborations, Tim had some great insight and wisdom to share with us.
Q: We have seen a plethora of definitions for Private Marketplaces. How does The Trade Desk define a PMP?
We define a Private Marketplace (PMP) as a buy (guaranteed or non-guaranteed) executed using programmatic infrastructure that preserves buy side decision making, that is, the power to choose between one impression versus the next. This is an important distinction because many people consider workflow automation in the form of trafficking guaranteed tags to fall into the category of PMP. The mechanism used to enable/surface a PMP transaction to the buyer is most often a Deal ID via an SSP partner like SpotX.
Our belief is that decision making on the buy side is critical in any PMP contract, whether there is committed budget or not. Our clients also tend to have a bias towards managing all of their deals using a single tool – giving them holistic visibility across all of their media in one place.
Q: What are the most common pitfalls of PMPs and how can they be avoided?
At The Trade Desk, we have advanced tremendously in the last year from a general troubleshooting perspective as the industry becomes more accustomed to executing PMP contracts. The Trade Desk itself has built tactical level troubleshooting capabilities into our platform to help cut down on the errors often seen during the initial set up.
There are still challenges, however, that arise with publisher blocking — advertiser blocks and third party vendor blocks being the most common. In order to surface these issues up front, we’ve added visibility into contract avails at the dashboard level to allow for simple spot-checking that a contract is actually receiving requests. We’ve also taken great strides to document process and train our client facing teams and our clients directly to make sure everyone is asking the right questions whenever they are entering into the PMP space. As we continue to build out the platform, we’ll be adding more features and alerts to make the process as seamless as possible to launch a contract successfully.
It’s important to surface as much of this up front as possible to avoid issues post launch.
Another macro-level challenge is a general lack of industry-wide deal discovery. It’s important to be fully transparent with buyers utilizing platforms for their media execution that are actively making optimization decisions throughout the life of a campaign.
That is precisely why we are working so closely with SpotX — to help create this type of discovery inside our platform across all available deals in the SpotX ecosystem, not just the deals that have already been put in place.
In many ways, I look at my role at The Trade Desk as creating access to opportunities for the buyers that leverage our platform. The more opportunities that we can surface through true deal discovery, the better for everyone.
Q: With regard to a PMP partnership, what qualities should publishers look for in an advertiser?
Transparency is always a key quality for any partnership and core tenant of our platform at The Trade Desk. An open dialogue around what the buyer is trying to achieve on behalf of their clients/campaigns is helpful for any publisher so they can tailor their PMP contract in a way that gives everyone the greatest chance for success. This also helps cut down on troubleshooting post launch.
There is a general sense on the publisher side that they do not have a meaningful feedback loop from the buy side and a lot of this comes from the lack of transparency established in the initial set up. Make sure both sides are aligned before kicking off the deal!
Q: With regard to a PMP partnership, what qualities do you advise buyers to look for in publishers?
Flexibility is a critical component. Many of our buyers are moving to a world of committed buys executed programmatically – what we refer to as the Forward Market. Budget that was once spent via an IO is now coming through programmatic channels. Flexibility on how these deals are structured from the publisher perspective is key to enable the buy side to preserve choice on the impressions that they buy while still providing assurance to the sellers that the budgets are still in place.
We’ve built in functionality into The Trade Desk platform to help support both sides of these deals. On the buy side, our platform enables buyers to track and optimize against guaranteed spend, fill rate, and other metrics to ensure they are meeting or exceeding the terms of their deal. Sellers also have the ability to expose opportunities (guaranteed or non-guaranteed) to the buyers via our Publisher Management Platform to drive spend towards their properties.
All of this work that The Trade Desk, SpotX, and others have committed to is with an eye towards a better programmatic future that closes (or least shrinks) the gap between buyers and sellers to allow for an easy media transaction.
We’d like to extend a big thanks to The Trade Desk for being a great partner and sharing some of their knowledge with us today. If you are looking to learn more about private marketplaces, check out the previous blog posts we’ve had as part of this series: