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Anyone working within programmatic advertising is likely to hear the phrase ‘curated marketplace’ a lot in 2021 – but what does ‘curation’ really mean in this context and why should it be a key priority for media buyers over the next 12 months? 

Michael Simpkins, Marketplace Commercial Lead at Xandr explains, as the programmatic landscape has become increasingly cluttered and complex over the past decade, many people now assume that media buyers operating their own ‘curated marketplace’ are simply looking to work with fewer partners in the advertising supply chain. However, this is only the first step and barely scratches the surface of how curation can help improve the effectiveness of a media strategy.  

 

Going back to basics

With the rapid growth of the programmatic industry, the supply chain became fragmented, resulting in a loss of control and transparency for both buyers and sellers. Buyers are also facing increasing pressure to justify return on ad spend, but siloed spending, rigid metrics and a convoluted supply chain make it hard to prove marketing impact on business outcomes.

 As a collective, the industry has matured in the past few years to take a step back and simplify the complex landscape. Direct relationships between buyers and sellers are being rebuilt and big steps are being taken to improve supply chain transparency. Marketers, now more understanding of the supply chain, are seeking to regain control not just over their ad spend but over their campaign performance too and, with the deprecation of the third-party cookie, these objectives take on even greater importance. On the other hand, with the proliferation of header bidding, publishers want to make sure their most important media buyers are still able to reach and value their inventory effectively. It is important for companies to deliver unique value across the advertising ecosystem from consumers, buyers and sellers. One of the ways we at Xandr are able to do this is through our curation offering, which brings buyers and sellers together on our platform, offering buyers a simplified and dedicated workflow to easily build out their own curated marketplaces from the supply available on our premium advertising marketplace.

 

Regaining control of the supply chain

By building out a curated marketplace, buyers gain control within the SSP (sell-side platform) and can apply macro business rules to supply before it hits the DSP (demand-side platform) for targeting, significantly reducing risk in a diverse supply chain.

Through curation, buyers are able to maximise their investment by having full control over supply decisioning and ensuring all media is run across brand safe environments and eliminating non-essential pass throughs in the supply chain. Costs can also be reduced as buyers streamline supply sources, campaign workflows and operational complexity while also having the ability to negotiate price and priority within publishers. Buyers are able to receive regular reports on supply-side fees and auction dynamics, strengthening cross-industry relationships and supporting our industry’s quest for supply chain transparency.

As collaboration becomes even more important in 2021 and beyond, curating a marketplace on a single platform can reduce the risk even further. With fewer partners you’re able to work together on market and regulatory changes, niche audience targets and specific campaign needs together. 

 

What is curation?

Today, we are used to a two-party transaction with a buyer using a DSP to purchase inventory and a seller using an SSP to surface their inventory to the buy side. Curation moves us to a three-party transaction where we now have a curator that sits between the SSP and DSP and works alongside the publishers to decide what inventory is allowed into their marketplace and then packages and merchandises that inventory via a curated multi-seller private marketplace (PMP) to make it available to the buy side to trade in their DSP. 

Creating your own curated marketplace does not have to be a huge undertaking – in fact, it involves just four key steps:  

  • Identify what you want to get out of the curated marketplace. Is it fee and auction dynamic transparency? More control on your supply paths? Performance gains? Setting a clear objective and strategy for the curated marketplace will make the process clearer for all parties involved. 
  • Establish who you want to partner with to build out the curated marketplace. Pick a technology partner that has the supply coverage, tools, expertise and service models to implement a successful curated marketplace. 
  • Work with your technology partner to understand what supply to bring into your marketplace and how to work with the publishers to do so. A curated marketplace should bring buyers and publishers closer together, not act as a blocker.
  • Optimise your curated marketplace. These marketplaces shouldn’t be static and should constantly be optimised based on performance, market changes and pricing. 

As consumers continue to access media content across numerous devices, their attention becomes increasingly difficult to capture and hold. To catch their audience wherever they are viewing content means marketers are having to reconsider their strategies for planning, buying and measuring advertisers. We have to introduce an option for those who want to buy advertising and access to consumers on all devices and formats in one place, and that option is curation.