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Optimizing Ad Supply: The Key to Marketer Success

Luca Filardo
VP Platform Management

It is one of the hottest topics in today’s industry. Supply, SPO and curation. But why does it matter and why is our industry talking about it?

A marketer’s objective is to deliver advertising in a premium and brand safe environment, in an efficient path, and effectively drive performance with every impression.

So let’s unpack to bring clarity to the different aspects related to supply and SPO.

Supply and Curation

There is a lot of noise around MFA today. Recent revelations on spoofing URLs, delivery on sites which have been built with the sole purpose of generating ad-revenue is creating justified concerns for marketers.

The days where the goal was reach the user no matter what should be over. Marketers need to be able to drive performance across the funnel through a curated list of publishers. It’s the DSP’s responsibility to identify the correct audience within a controlled and curated space.

The industry is booming and continuing to grow. As such, it is expected to attract bad actors who are trying to take advantage of the industry’s size and take out a piece of the pie.

Now - we need to talk about curation. This is very important and it should be specifically tailored to the client vertical, strategy and objective of the campaign.

At Adlook, we support marketers building a tailored and curated marketplace. Together with our clients, we study the optimal supply strategy to allow the brand to flourish and reach their market positioning.
Targeting solutions then allow to identify the key audiences and establish the performance baseline.

It is vital for marketers to start thinking about building a supply curation strategy that really fits within their strategy. Curation that needs to include premium horizontal supply and vertical on-target supply.

This curation ultimately will benefit all the key media owners who produce invaluable content. This curation will reward the free internet and contribute to the success of independent journalism. Marketers and tech vendors can kill two birds with one stone: through supply curation and inventory vetting, they will be able to elevate their brands and at the same time consolidate media dollars towards media owners who serve a crucial purpose in our society.

Discoverability is key and at Adlook we are working on building an innovative supply discovery tool. This tool will allow marketers to focus on identifying supply based on specific parameters such as context, optimal adsize to utilize and so on, ultimately allowing them to better curate supply.


The other aspect concerning MFAs relates to adplacement refresh or too small placements. Placements re-freshing too fast, too many placements causing ad-clutting, Placements that are simply far too small to even capture the user’s attention. Supply curation will cover pieces of this. However, it is fundamental that adtech providers start to embrace advanced measurement and focus more on the actual performance (and not vanity metrics) an impression drives.

Marketers and tech providers need to start embracing new ways of looking at placement. Bidding logics need to be able to capture performance and outcome a placement is able to generate. However, a key aspect is to have a granular bidding process. A DSP should be capable of reading, evaluates every single bid request and responds with an appropriate bid price to every single placement. Evaluation is key.

We have these instruments within our industry. We have the ability to receive, read and action against OpenRTB fields that go beyond domain or article.
To add on this, it is very important to note the key industry developments in recent times, especially around Global Placement ID (GPID). This identifier gives clarity and transparency at placement level for a given website across SSPs.

It is worth deep diving more on the performance piece. At Adlook we were the first DSP in the market to embrace attention measurement and real time optimization natively in our Platform,  leveraging attention as a lever to further clean up the supply and optimise towards ad placement that grabs the user attention. These insights are offered at placement level, making it easier to identify problematic placements.

SPO: bring efficiency, effectiveness and transparency

Here is where our industry made some mistakes. Instead of taking the burden to figure out the best and most efficient path to supply, we push this back to marketers.

It is now time we take a step back, improve supply’s discoverability for marketers and, as an industry, exploit the power of tools we have in place.

Our industry came a long way when it comes to communicating to actors involved in the bidding key information. Starting from ads.txt which helped the tech players identifying which sellers were authorized to manage the impression. Initial way to clean up the chain. Seller.Json and Schain then brought additional clarity on the type of sellers and nodes involved into the transaction. Still a bit needs to be done to bring clarity on actual fee involved in the transaction. This will give full view on the actual fee that involved buying a single adslot. As the industry continues to grow and the chain cleans, with more media dollars fueling towards legit pipes, I would expect more push towards a holistic view on fees and cost for the impression we bought.
It would be great if, as an industry, all major SSPs will give the flexibility to media owners to provide transparency on the fee involved in the auction. The ideal solution is to expand OpenRTB fields and pass the information directly in the bid request. This will allow DSPs to capture the information and easily report back to marketers providing holistic view on the working media - how much of their dollar is allocated towards actual media vs tech fees (SSPs and DSPs plus additional vendors).

At Adlook we see SPO as a way to identify the most efficient and direct path to supply in order to hit campaign performance in the contest marketers can flourish. As such, we have moved away years ago, from indirect supply paths, and enforced all the tools we have in place (ads.txt; seller.json, schain) to finally offer marketers the most effective and efficient path to supply. We have optimized supply at the source, working with our SSP partners to curate the supply chain. We made the decision to cut down SSPs that didn’t add value into the chain and consolidated media dollars toward players who innovate and closely work with premium media owners.

A key pillar and development we are seeing is around getting closer to the supply side or SSPs getting closer to the demand side. We have been seeing more and more DSPs getting closer to the supply (deploying their adapters for prebid) and SSPs deploying some sort of buying platforms.At Adlook we have our own direct path to supply - however, this path competes alongside our vetted SSP paths and no preference is given in any shape or form. The end goal is to fuel our machine with the most valuable supply paths and the machine will score based on campaign goals and brand guidelines.

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