How Curated Marketplaces Put Supply Control Into the Hands of Advertisers

Execute media buys transparently and efficiently

In the digital advertising space, many buyers face the challenge of how to take control of the supply they purchase for a particular marketing need. Ask media buyers and they’ll tell you this is a major area of focus for them and has been for years.

Recent research from Xandr shows that roughly half (47%) of media buyers say driving spend towards performing inventory is a requirement for their supply strategy, and 30% said their primary objective is to improve transparency. Not exactly shocking stuff, but as anyone working on the front lines in digital will know, this is easier said than done. 

And it’s not getting any easier. Reduced margins and growing complexities around programmatic—thanks to the rise of connected TV supply—make it difficult for agencies to execute a differentiated supply strategy with quality media. This is a problem from the supply desk on down to the trader level. It turns out it’s really hard managing media buys across multiple DSPs. And while there are good reasons to do it, it often comes at the cost of operational inefficiencies and a lack of visibility into where spend really goes.

The farmer’s market of digital advertising

One way to address this pain point? Curated marketplaces, a relatively new concept in digital media that are perhaps best introduced through a food supply chain analogy.

Many consumers care about the food they eat and want more transparency into how it’s grown, where it comes from and more choice on what they buy. This means something different to everyone: some are focused on buying local, others are shopping organic, others are concerned with eating a paleo diet and so forth. Another task easier said than done, though—how do you validate those kinds of requirements day-to-day and know what to buy and from whom?

To meet consumers’ needs, more and more services are popping up—from farmer’s markets, greengrocers and CSA programs to specialty food delivery services. These companies all provide some kind of curated food marketplace within the larger, international food ecosystem and solve a targeted problem for a particular consumer need.

For digital advertising, curated marketplaces gather select supply direct from publishers, consolidate media into a central marketplace and address a number of these core pain points. With curated marketplaces, buyers can design, build and manage their supply paths with a self-serve platform.

These marketplaces allow buyers to bring proprietary assets like negotiated pricing and prioritization arrangements with sellers, unique data they might have, and optimization expertise. The ability to execute buys within this custom marketplace brings several advantages:

Control: Buyers can take control of inventory sourcing, create a centralized supply strategy and actively manage it with a dedicated toolset. This can mean working with fewer, chosen partners to curate the best, most direct supply that aligns with their business goals around brand safety, audience, context, device types, inventory lists and more.

Transparency: Leveraging the curated marketplace as a single solution centralizes spend, making it easier to report on end-to-end costs. What used to require a massive data aggregation project across multiple tech platforms is now trivial for any user to pull on demand and see how much went to fees and how much was working media.

Efficiency: Buyers executing various campaigns can easily manage the supply chain across multiple trading teams, platforms and regions. Adding a new deal with a preferred seller can be done with one action in the curated marketplace, instead of having to update every campaign in every DSP, for example. 

The quest for high-quality, transparent supply is universal. In any supply chain, whether it be food, advertising or another, there’s a newfound enthusiasm for bespoke products. This isn’t a static problem. To consolidate marketplaces, simplify transactions and, of course, meet growing and evolving demands of the end user, continuous innovation and new tools are needed.

While the food industry will continue to see a rise in a host of specialized options, digital advertising will increasingly adopt curated marketplaces, allowing market participants to deploy unique, sophisticated solutions at scale that make it easy to manage supply paths and drive both performance and transparency to their campaigns.

Ben Kneen is senior director of product management at Xandr. In his role, Ben leads the product team for Xandr Curate and the deals capability for Xandr’s strategic selling platform, Xandr Monetize.