These days, there is a lot of talk of programmatic tools for transacting media. There is industry wide consensus that automation is important in helping us to move forward as an industry. In a recent post, we discussed the primary challenge caused by process automation, Automating An Outdated Process? Now You Suck Faster. In that post, we discussed how media buying processes have not been significantly updated throughout the industry's massive tectonic changes of recent decades. To follow up on our discussion, we consider another part of the media business that needs a fundamental rethink - the definition of the media being transacted. While real-time impression sales are powered by a robust data environment, the translation of that data into a better understanding of what future inventory is going to look like has not yet materialized.
Most forecasting solutions that currently exist construct a single view of the future. In reality, there is not one future, there are a bunch of possible futures each of which has a different probability of becoming reality. The future is uncertain but understanding the landscape of things that will very likely happen, will probably happen, and might happen can be clearly defined. If we prepare for any of those combination of very likely, probably, and might happen inventory possibilities, we can bring the rich fabric of real-time audience and placement data into the future. Buyers can buy the impressions they want at a specified price before they even show up at the publisher's media.
Today a mid-sized rate card contains a few hundred catalog items and prices, a very large one contains a few thousand. The reality is that there are tens or hundreds of millions of ways buyers buy, e.g. reasons for bidding on an impression. Publisher's need to be able to understand what that landscape looks like. A rate card, even a very complex one, is a very low resolution picture of the impression landscape. It is in that lack of clarity that media arbitrageurs transfer value form the publisher's pocket into their own.
Publisher's have lots of technology and lots of data but do they have the tools that make that data truly understandable to the people who need to make media sales decisions? No! While publishers have supply side sales platforms, these technology merely give the illusion that the value decision making power has been given to their technology. In reality, SSPs relinquish the value decision making to the DSPs. That's kind of nuts for anything but real time impressions.
Optimal transactions happen when both sides have an established value for a transaction and negotiate a final price. The current RTB environment effectively asks the buyers to negotiate among themselves to determine the value of an impressions, hoping that the highest bid is above the auction's floor. Since an impression only lasts for a fleeting moment, all of this makes sense. Impressions in the future don't have that same characteristic. Publishers have months to sell future impressions. This is the fundamental rethink of the solution and problem set.
A platform for publishers that fully empowers their sales teams to sell future media with the full resolution of what the future may look like is the foundation of our platform.