As programmatic advertising spent keeps increasing, and the digital landscape gets more complex, one thing remains the same: Publishers need to strike a delicate balance between earning ad revenue and maintaining a positive user experience. Enter Server-Side Platforms or SSPs: It’s their role to help publishers manage the dynamic programmatic buying process while keeping their readers happy.
Over the years, Server-Side Platforms have expanded their functions and responsibilities. Today, many SSPs include ad-exchange mechanisms that allow publishers to directly connect to DSPs. Because of this growth – and the increasingly dominant role that technology plays in the industry – it’s more important than ever that companies offering SSP technology stay connected to publishers’ actual needs and priorities.
In our two decades in business, we have always made it a point to have an ongoing dialogue with our publishers (our O&O, direct sites, and those carrying our ads.txt). Stemming from recent conversations, below are the five key points that matter to publishers, which SSPs should take into account:
Proactive Alerting System for Server-Side Platforms
Complex integrations tend to break up and for that reason, an advanced Push alert system is a welcome feature. For example, publishers would benefit from getting an email signal that explains any drop in bidding. If a certain buyer behind the scenes pauses its inventory bidding, the publisher would love to know about it in real time (as opposed to discovering it after the fact.)
Better Payment Terms
Most publishers work with Google, which has strict KPIs and requirements. However, the trade-off is that payments always arrive on the expected date. Google is obviously dependable when it comes to payment cycles, more so than other SSP companies.
The recent bankruptcies (e.g., Sizmek) and the resulting supply-chain shakeup because of bad debt shows that it’s time SSPs reconsider how they think about risk and credit with their long-term partners. If SSPs would be more willing to split and absorb unexpected bankruptcy losses, more publishers may be willing to take a chance on non-Google SSPs.
We all know that the open market has become crowded. It’s not surprising, then, that for publishers, access to preferred (premium) demand is a “game changer” as far as yield optimization is concerned. Publishers would love the opportunity to showcase their inventory. They’d also love to stream demand for such inventory in a push manner, meaning that the ad exchange would notify them when a buyer is searching for their specific audience/vertical.
Attention for Small and Medium-Size Players
While the industry’s big publishers (top 5%) have designated POC, the small and medium-size pubs feel that they’re on their own. Overshadowed by Google, which controls most of the market and monitors several domains under one POC, the smaller publishers are missing out on long-tail revenue. What’s needed is for companies offering SSP technology to have more account managers dedicated to giving more attention to small and medium-sized publishers.
Better SSP Reporting Systems
SSPs typically provide publishers with daily site reports. While rich with raw data, many publishers feel that these daily reports can be better tailored to help them improve their bottom line. Often, important data is missing. For example, while information may be presented about a publisher’s fill rates for in-app inventory, this same data may not exist for desktop – or vice versa. Not to mention, some reports lack granular data about how well a particular placement size is selling or the amount of traffic a site is getting.
What’s needed from each SSP report is a broader view and a recommendation of what a publisher could do to improve its site traffic or increase its ad revenue (Like, if a certain site only has a small ad placement but would benefit from a larger ad placement size). After all, SSPs have the advantage of having a bird’s eye view – of being able to look over the publisher’s entire stack.
This provides SSPs with the ability to share insightful knowledge and specific benchmarks against which a publisher can rate themselves. For example, a publisher that has multiple domains and sub-domains (as most do) would benefit from knowing which buyer appears at what domain on the ad exchange. This way, they can manage their inventory in a deeper granular level.
Conclusion: Server-Side Platforms Will Continue to Grow
In today’s ever-growing ad-tech industry, where technology is constantly expanding the number of platforms and capabilities, publishers need the supply side support more than ever. And vice versa. However, to improve and strengthen their relationship, it would benefit SSPs to take notice of what really matters to publishers. The end result would strengthen their partnership and the overall ecosystem.