GroupM is bringing its supply path optimization efforts to over-the-top media, choosing SpotX as its preferred supply-side platform for video inventory.
The partnership comes as WPP’s media buying arm adds video to its Premium Supply offering in the U.S. GroupM Premium Supply lets the agency’s clients buy programmatic inventory more transparently and with pricing benefits that come from GroupM’s scale.
Esra Bacher, GroupM’s managing partner and programmatic investment lead, said the preferred partnership with SpotX doesn’t include spend commitments. Instead, a key to the relationship is around fee transparency, both to reduce fees for GroupM clients and to better understand the fees SpotX charges media owners.
“That transparency is going to enable us to make the right decisions as the how our clients can access [inventory] in the most cost-efficient way,” Bacher said.
GroupM made a similar move in March when it named Index Exchange its preferred SSP for display media. Now, the agency is extending its supply path optimization efforts into OTT as streaming becomes more popular and linear TV continues to decline.
Streaming, especially on connected television, has spiked and remained high during the coronavirus pandemic as people stay home and watch more content. At the same time, the pandemic has also hastened the decline of linear TV, with research firm MoffettNathanson expecting linear pay TV subscriptions to decline by 27 million by 2024.
Bacher said efforts to find a preferred video SSP were underway prior to the pandemic, but those efforts became a priority once the impact of the shutdowns hit.
Part of the deal with SpotX will have the SSP build specific solutions for GroupM and its clients. Sean Buckley, COO of SpotX, said building tools around data enablement, measurement and planning and forecasting are important as TV buying becomes more audience driven.
“From a product perspective, we think it’s increasingly important that we’re in sync with the buy-side community,” Buckley said. “We … will continue to work very closely with the GroupM team to make sure that our product roadmap aligns with what their needs, and the needs of their clients are, to make sure we’re solving the issues that they’re encountering.”
As agencies invest more in programmatic channels, brands have been asking for more transparency to better understand how their dollars are being spent. As a result, agencies are scrutinizing their supply chains to understand the fees ad-tech companies tack onto transactions and the data gathered during ad auctions that can be used to optimize campaigns.
A recent study from ISBA, a U.K. trade body and PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 15% of digital spend goes unaccounted for, which has further spurred industry efforts to make programmatic advertising more transparent.
Bacher said having direct relationships with both publishers and intermediaries helps shed light on that missing spend.
“If a client wants to audit where their investments are going, we are in a place to really give them a clear answer as to which technology partners are charging how much, and how we are investing their money,” she said.
GroupM Premium Supply is available across the agency’s biggest market in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. This is part of a strategy that has seen the holding group consolidate SSP partnerships for several years.
GroupM’s preferred relationships are currently limited to display and OTT inventory, but Bacher said the agency is open to partnering with SSPs that specialize in other formats as it continues its supply path optimization efforts.