Lets define before we begin.
Ad Network Platforms: platforms being built by current ad networks to service agencies and brands directly
Demand Platforms: meta platforms that sit on top of multiple inventory sources
There seems to be a battle brewing between ad network platforms vs. demand platforms. The trend I’ve spoken about on this blog for a while now and is now picking up at a faster pace are the ad networks we’ve all known to love (or hate) that are creating their own “platform” for brands and agencies to pull the levers instead of the people in their services group.
There are three types of ad network platforms that are being built out and non of them are mutually exclusive to the other:
- Platform for buying audience segments & data
- Platform for buying media
- Platform for creative optimization
In theory and at first glance, these seem directionally right to where the industry needs to go. Why wouldn’t brands or agencies adopt an ad network platform for their own use in their VMM/VivaKi/Cadreon/Adnetik/B3/ATOM group? This is the major question and note, I can only speak for myself (VMM), but because this blog is of personal nature, I am voicing my own views, not the views of my employer (disclaimer).
The macro hypothesis that is being tested is: agencies or specialist agency groups want to bypass the managed services part of ad networks and build the capacity for audience selection/procurement, optimization, and insights/analytics internally under the umbrella of whatever holding company they are employed at.
This post does not go into the reasons as to why this may or may not be smart but rather talks about why ad networks should not focus on building their own platform.
If you agree or can assume the hypothesis above, then continue reading.
The first iteration of ad network platforms (not to be named, but if you want a list, contact me) still are a closed loop system. The reason why you would use a demand platform unit on the buy-side is that you want access to as much inventory as possible in order to make the smartest decisions for your clients (open). By using one or even four different ad network powered platforms, you are making the job of inventory & data procurement and optimization harder than it needs to be.
Multiple platforms means multiple log-ins. Apples to apples comparisons are not easy to make as each platform is slightly different. Universal cookies are tough to pull off. Biforcating data. Duplication of bidding leads to artificially inflated pricing.
There needs to be a layer that plugs into the networks – i.e. a meta platform that can plug into as many inventory sources (networks, exchanges, sites direct, etc) as possible in order to aggregate as much data and media inventory. I do not foresee a company like AudienceScience allowing X+1 to plug into it or vice versa in the near future. That 3rd party layer is going to be crucial and that’s where the buy-side demand platforms sit.
I do not foresee agencies using multiple ad network powered platforms in the long run which means there is a forthcoming (and current) land grab to be the agency side demand platform of choice.
My friend Fred Wilson who blogs over at AVC likes to post entries on his blog that have his “wants” and hopes that people take note and action them. I’m going to borrow that idea from him and try this here. This is what I want within the demand platform and ad network platform space:
- Ad networks to scrub their data and make it available for purchase without the media attached
- Ad networks to plug into as many demand side platforms as possible (i.e. Invite Media, Media Math, Turn, etc)
- Figure out the issues around appending cookies visa vi multiple vendors (universal cookie?)
- Data should not have ‘minimums,’ if it works, we’ll buy more, if not, we’ll be back again to test another data set
- Let the market price media and data as the real value will rise to the right buyer
- Regulation/restriction/firewalls between the same company who sells/licenses/rents data and whom sells media
Anything else I’m missing?