Why Premium Publishers Should Embrace Private Marketplaces and the 7 Questions They Need to Ask

Digital video advertising has grown from a fledgling industry into one worth over €1B in 2013, and programmatic video ad sales in EU-5 are tipped to reach €369m by the end of 2015. Programmatic advertising is on the rise and proving to be a key growth engine because it makes the buying and selling of video ads more efficient, measurable, and transparent.

Programmatic advertising delivers benefits that have attracted both advertisers and publishers. However, the buying and selling of “premium” video inventory programmatically has experienced a slower uptake. Premium inventory represents a publisher’s most valuable asset, and many publishers have been reluctant to sell it in an open marketplace due to the lack of control over who buys their inventory, pricing, and overall consumer experience.

Private marketplaces offer publishers the benefits of programmatic buying along with control over who has access to their inventory and at what price. That’s because, although they use programmatic technology, private marketplaces are not open. Instead, they are invitation-only, whether the invitation is issued by the publisher or the advertiser.

Private marketplaces come in a few flavours and can be set up in one of several ways. Pricing can be fixed or auction-based, and inventory can either be reserved or unreserved. The most common type of private marketplace uses reserved inventory and fixed prices. This is typically referred to as “programmatic direct,” “programmatic guaranteed,” or “programmatic reserved.”

Publishers have a lot to gain from private marketplaces, and premium publishers are beginning to embrace these platforms because of the advantages they deliver. These include:

  • Brand control. Publishers want to create engaging consumer experiences with their content — and those experiences extend to any associated ad placement. A private marketplace allows publishers to decide what brands can place ads on their site. This ensures only high-quality advertisers have access to their premium inventory.
  • Pricing control. In the same way that publishers want to control the consumer experience of their premium content, they want to control price. In a private marketplace with fixed pricing and reserved inventory, publishers pre-negotiate the price of inventory. As a result, they can better predict how much revenue they will earn.
  • Advanced analytics. Private marketplaces can help supplement a publisher’s own research and analytics, making it even easier to see trends in advertiser demand, pricing, and preferences. Integrated with programmatic platforms for non-premium inventory, private marketplaces provide complementary analytics for all of your inventory (premium and non-premium), across all audience segments.
  • Customer satisfaction. A growing number of advertisers are already using programmatic platforms for their standard video and display buys, and some of the most forward-thinking are eager to integrate premium buys as well. Publishers that offer their premium inventory via programmatic channels are evolving to meet the new demands of advertisers, and are creating a competitive advantage for themselves in the marketplace.

Private marketplaces are quickly transforming the video ad segment. But navigating these waters is no easy task, and publishers will need to do their due diligence to make sure the technology partner they select is the right one. As such, here are the seven questions publishers will need to ask to help make that decision.

  1. What kind of specific controls does your platform create for the sell side?
  2. Do you allow publishers to set pricing floors?
  3. If my inventory goes unsold, what alternatives or safeguards can you offer?
  4. Do you invite advertisers to the private marketplaces on the publisher’s behalf?
  5. Can you onboard advertisers not currently part of your larger programmatic exchange?
  6. Can you onboard advertisers we do not currently sell to, but would like to?
  7. What’s your process for onboarding advertisers into a private marketplace?

In conclusion, private marketplaces have evolved into a powerful strategy for publishers who want to maximise the value of their premium inventory. But before they can realise the true benefits, they’ll need to ensure their partner is fully aligned with their needs and can deliver the right solutions to help meet their goals.

Leon Siotis

Leon Siotis


Leon Siotis is Senior Director of Media & Publisher Development, BrightRoll.