DSPs – Even The Future Needs To Keep Up With The Present

DSPs – Even The Future Needs To Keep Up With The Present

In this opinion piece Nick Ballard, managing director of BlisMedia AU/NZ, argues that in an age of programmatic buying and mobile data, Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) not only need to look at their base methodology, but also improve their ability to handle the most interesting data point of all – location.

BlisMedia AU/NZ
Posted by BlisMedia AU/NZ

Widely acknowledged as the future of media trading, programmatic buying of digital media is growing year-on-year. According to Magna Global, it will reach 52 per cent of all Australian impressions and a global market of over US$30bn by 2017.

Optimised, automated bidding processes manage media buys and reach customised audiences at the moments that matter most. Today, it is undeniably more efficient to buy through trading desks and teams who tap into programmatic Real Time Bidding (RTB), to buy at scale, faster, at better rates, and with more comprehensive reporting.

Now that mobile inventory has entered the market at volumes that are making news, DSPs have plunged headlong into this new and exciting space. For a brand or agency trading desk, this is good news. It means more inventory, more customers and more dollars. Mobile, however, requires a different approach; desktop-based methodologies cannot simply be applied in the same way.

Cookie usage, for example, is very restrictive, so audience-building methodologies need to be different. Mobile is also massively skewed to App traffic, not browsers, with the latest Nielsen Mobile Ratings Report putting it at over 80 per cent. What works on web, probably won’t work in-App. For example, traditional pixel-tracking technologies will need to adapt very quickly.

Aside from technological barriers, there is an audience challenge too. According to the September 2015 Nielsen/IAB Online Landscape Review, 66 per cent of daily unique browsers are on mobile devices. This increasing shift of eyeballs away from desktop to mobile has seen many desktop-based DSPs jump into mobile – often simply because their Supply Side Platform (SSP) partners have turned on the mobile inventory tap, and claim to be mobile-ready. If you think that is the answer, think again.

The real beauty of mobile is its individuality and inherent ‘mobility’. Without cookie technologies, you need an alternate, persistent ID to give you that individuality. Your partner technology therefore needs to be able to handle unique device IDs on a massive scale, and then use them to make real-time buying decisions through a bidding platform, all in a fraction of a second.

Brands also need to harness the power of this mobility as provided by the device’s location. Location-enabled inventory is the exciting new frontier, but you need to think beyond the narrow confines of ‘geo’ and ‘proximity’. While ring-fencing a location undoubtedly has effective uses, the key to optimising mobile data is finding a partner who has the ability to utilise, at scale and at speed, a device’s location history to tell you about the owner of that device. This is the new audience frontier – and you do not need cookies.

Unfortunately, there’s a problem. And it’s a very basic problem. Location data is often inaccurate.

A recent Mediapost article reported that over 50 per cent of SSP-passed location data is inaccurate. If your mobile media vendor is simply buying location data as presented by an SSP, there is a very high chance those ad requests are not where you, or they, thought they were. Now, that’s bad enough if you’re running a proximity campaign, but it is a disaster if you are building audience profiles from it. This inaccuracy is an industry-wide problem and it is vital that your chosen partner has a robust verification process in place.

The unique nature of the programmatic mobile ecosystem makes it important to get under the hood and ask the hard questions of mobile ad-tech providers. If you only have two questions you could ask, make sure they are:

  • Does your DSP use device IDs in building audience profiles?
  • Does your DSP understand and leverage location signals to assist in building those audience profiles?

Any supplier in the mobile space will have mobile-specific challenges. Their answers to the above questions define if they have the technology to deliver meaningful return on investment.

Ask away.