How to master curation in programmatic advertising

Curation has emerged as a critical weapon in the arsenal of publishers looking to boost control, transparency and efficiency in the programmatic supply chain, says Dan Owens, CCO of curation platform Multilocal. Here, he explains the benefits and offers a few tips on how to master this new tech.

By Dan Owens

How to master curation in programmatic advertising
Photograph: Tommyvideo on Pixabay.

In the early 2010s, the advent of programmatic advertising and real time bidding promised to inject increased scale, speed, transparency and efficiency into the digital ad buying process. It promised to revolutionise the way publishers went about selling their inventory and monetising their first-party data and, to a degree, programmatic delivered on that pledge.

Yet, as time has gone by, the supply chain has become convoluted as the number of players, the complexity and the distance between buyer and seller have all increased. Today, publishers operate in a somewhat murky world. An ISBA study discovered that many receive only half of advertiser spend, and that 15% of this - about one-third of supply chain costs - can’t be attributed at all.

Curation is the answer to these problems, and delivers the programmatic supply chain a much-needed dose of transparency, while also providing publishers with an enhanced, privacy-safe way of monetising first-party data.

Publishers and their problems

Before getting into further detail regarding curation’s possibilities, it is worth examining the specific challenges publishers face in the programmatic arena.

In today’s world, the advertising ecosystem has become something of a convoluted mess, and, despite the increased scale and targeting opportunities, publishers are struggling in a couple of key instances. The first is a lack of control over their inventory thanks to reduced transparency, the increased competition of an open market in which yields are relentlessly compressed, and the constant pressure to deliver targeted, brand-safe environments.

The ability to monetise first party data is also an increasing concern and, with the death of the cookie approaching, loss of audience is also troubling. Compounding this issue is the fact that delivering a high-quality experience for their users means that most publishers limit the number of ad units they run. In the same spirit, many avoid tactics such as buying traffic or automatic ad refreshes. It is a constant challenge for publishers to balance user experience with revenue flow.

Curation: what is it?

The concept of curation is simple, yet it achieves a number of complex goals. For advertisers, curation offers the ability to build audiences at scale, and target them on the supply side of the ad exchange. This offers greater control, transparency and an easier workflow in targeting global audiences in a privacy-first, brand-safe manner. There is another plus point, as by eliminating a number of steps involved in the process, you can save both time and money.

Curation for publishers works along the same principles, but provides greater inventory control than the open market offers, helping to monetise first-party data in a controlled, privacy-safe manner. It even offers exciting possibilities for audience extension.

In practice, curation provides the opportunity for publishers, data providers and advertisers to come together in a private marketplace built to address the concerns and challenges each faces, and operate with the transparency and efficiency the open market no longer offers.

Publisher benefits

Curation benefits publishers in a number of ways. Incremental revenue is a big one, and curation offers the chance for publishers to operate and control who’s representing them in market in a controlled environment and on terms they are happy with. This means greater control of their inventory, how it is segmented and sold and the price they get for it.

Curation also allows publishers to find audiences at scale, globally, among numerous ad exchanges. And because of the transparency provided in a curated deal, it also offers brand safety for advertisers looking for premium, safe placements for their clients and their ads. As we’ve seen, curation operates primarily in the SSP, and means publishers get greater operational simplicity, speed and efficiency.

In the privacy-first era we live in, curation offers publishers the chance to deploy and monetise their highly valuable first-party data in a compliant way that boosts advertiser confidence and targeting accuracy. It also provides an opportunity to expand audience extension programs while sticking to brand values, and generate revenue from data even when a publisher has no advertising on its properties.

How to get started with curation

Starting with curation as a publisher is easier than you might think. It’s simply a case of activating the curation service through the SSPs they work with. In terms of pricing strategy, a ‘bigger picture’ mentality is important, and it's crucial to be realistic about CPMs. The nature of the game means that if publishers aren’t overly protective of their CPMs, programmatic will drive strong incremental revenue over time.

About us

multilocal delivers billions of digital ads each year, acting as a single point of contact for its clients’ digital marketing efforts, across the globe. By removing geographic barriers and streamlining programmatic ad placements, it enables clients to dramatically improve efficiency and effectiveness. Its platform enables the team to take on all the back-end responsibilities, thereby enabling clients to focus on growing their own businesses.