Earlier this year, programmatic firm PubMatic pressed go on Activate — a new end-to-end supply path optimisation (SPO) solution that would let buyers execute non-bidded direct deals on premium video and Connected TV (CTV) inventory.
Lead image: Jason Barnes, chief revenue officer, APAC, PubMatic.
Several long months later, Activate has made its way to APAC. Dentsu’s APAC team is already signed up, as well as a range of TV partners across the region. To get the inside track on the new solution and learn why SPO will be make-or-break everyone operating in programmatic advertising, B&T sat down for an exclusive chat with Pubmatic’s APAC chief revenue officer, Jason Barnes and its newly announced regional director for Australia and New Zealand, James Young.
“It’s bringing a new paradigm to the programmatic supply chain. It’s an end-to-end CTV buying solution bringing transparency and control to buyers and publishers. It’s unique and solving a number of issues,” said Barnes.
The Activate solution has been years in the making, following the company’s acquisition of media measurement and reporting platform Martin. This new product has been the result of integrating Martin’s core functions into PubMatic’s core SSP. Now, with everything on a single platform, Barnes believes that it should give PubMatic a distinct advantage in the market.
“Today, if you are an SSP or a DSP, dealing with third-party measurement or you have different data partners, all of them have different degrees of transparency into their product — some are complete black boxes, others have a bit of transparency,” he explained.
By bringing everything into just a single platform, PubMatic is now able to offer end-to-end transparency to the buyers and the suppliers in the programmatic CTV supply chain.
Of course, the irony here is that transparency can often be an unclear term. As Barnes explained, it can mean being able to see the fees but, it can also mean control.
“As soon as you understand what everything is, you can start saying ‘Hold on, I don’t that to work like that or why is there a fee there?’ Transparency boils down a lot to control and controls,” he said.
This level of control and transparency sounds, from the outside, inherently positive. However, for some media buying agencies, it can pose a problem.
“In the industry, it’s no surprise that agencies are being disintermediated by way of some of the big DSPs going directly to brands and around the agencies. [Activate] is putting that control and decision in the agencies’ hands. Transparency and control are something that publishers have always wanted and agencies have to varying degrees. But, at this current stage, it’s very, very important to them,” Barnes said.
This level of interrogation into the CTV supply chain comes at a crucial juncture for the medium. Netflix’s expansion into ad-supported streaming has been mirrored first by Disney and now by Amazon Prime Video. The total slice of TV viewership is skewing ever more in favour of CTV — making it a great time to join a firm like PubMatic.
“It’s a product that’s really going to differentiate us in the market,” said Young.
“From my experience in the CTV realm over the last six years, I saw a noticeable shift of advertising dollars back towards more of an insertion order (IO) basis rather than private marketplace or open marketplace traded environments. That meant there was a lot more pressure on publishers to be messing around with IOs, sending them back and forth to be signed and all the rest, which we’ve been doing for 20 years.
“To be able to launch a product which solves a lot of those issues for both the publisher and buyer, and to speed up that process, is going to be great for us when we go to market with a product that both sides benefit from”.
In fact, PubMatic has been confident enough to say that both publishers and advertisers will see decent boosts in their revenue should they choose to activate, erm, Activate. However, Barnes wouldn’t be drawn on exactly how much money is being left on the table by both sides at the moment.
“It’s hard. We can look at the total addressable market and try to understand the size of the opportunity. The numbers that we have show that there’s about US$65 billion, or about $100 million Aussie, being transacted in online video that is non-programmatic. There’s about $37 billion on CTV. That’s the sort of prize sitting there.
“That is exciting for our publishers because we can say ‘We’re going to try and find a way to make it easier for agencies to transact’ and, as we’re partners with these publishers, we can help than money flow. Again, remember, it makes it easier for an agency that might be spending a lot on the walled gardens on YouTube, TikTok or other environments. If we find a way to make it more fee efficient and more efficient from a workflow perspective to be spending with these premium publishers then the publishers will love it”.
There is one large elephant in the room, however. PubMatic is an SSP. By offering agencies the chance to get access to the premium CTV inventory — isn’t the firm stepping outside its wheelhouse?
“This is not a DSP and we’re not going to be competing with all the other big DSPs,” Barnes assured us.
“Our intention is not to be competing with them. In fact, we think that Activate can be complementary because all those DSPs are also trying to unlock IO and make it programmatic because that’s a piece of the pie that they don’t get at all.
“Think about it, there’s one other participant in the market going to agencies and asking them, ‘Hey, why don’t you start shifting this IO through programmatic?’ In that way, it’s actually complementary. We aren’t going to agencies and saying you don’t need your massive DSP”.
Here’s hoping that Google, The Trade Desk, Adobe, Xandr et al hear that message loud and clear.
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