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  • Writer's pictureMichael Burns

Is Sell-Side Curation The Future, And What Is It?


As we approach the inevitable end of third-party cookies, the advertising technology landscape is undergoing a significant transformation. The industry is shifting towards innovative solutions to maintain effective audience targeting and ad delivery. One of the most notable trends emerging in this post-cookie era is sell-side curation. This approach leverages first-party data from both buyers and publishers to create robust private marketplaces (PMPs), revolutionizing the way we connect with audiences.


The Evolution of Deal Curation


While PMPs are not a new concept, the methodology behind them is evolving. Traditionally, audience matching was handled at the demand-side platform (DSP) level, relying heavily on third-party cookies. However, with the impending deprecation of these cookies, supply-side platforms (SSPs) are now taking the lead, utilizing their closer ties to publisher first-party data to build curated marketplaces. This shift is redefining the roles of DSPs, SSPs, and data management platforms (DMPs), introducing new dynamics and tensions within the programmatic ecosystem.


Transforming the Supply Chain


The move towards SSP curation is driven by the need for innovative targeting solutions amidst signal loss. Marketers are now compelled to find creative ways to target audiences across publishers without relying on third-party cookies. SSPs are stepping up by offering first-party data services, which were traditionally the domain of DSPs. This transition is crucial for large-scale activation of second- and third-party audiences in a programmatic open marketplace, ensuring continuity in effective ad targeting.


The Rise of Sell-Side Data Marketplaces


As SSPs forge partnerships with third-party data providers, such as Experian and TransUnion, they enhance match rates between buyer and seller audience graphs. This collaboration leads to the creation of SSP-specific data marketplaces, allowing buyers to integrate additional audience data layers into their campaign targeting. Previously available primarily through DSPs, these marketplaces now provide a new avenue for buyers to optimize their supply paths and enhance targeting precision.


Strategic Positioning and Transparency


SSPs are capitalizing on this trend by differentiating their data utilization approach, offering high-quality supply and transparency. This development enables SSPs to engage in more strategic conversations with buyers, explaining the unique value they bring compared to other SSPs. Additionally, DMPs are rebranding themselves as curation specialists, facilitating audience matches and leveraging integrations with third-party data providers to stand out in the competitive landscape.


Enhanced Audience Targeting and Efficiency


By leveraging first-party data and sophisticated audience matching techniques, marketers can target audiences more effectively. SSPs package these audiences into PMPs, assigning deal IDs that can be seamlessly integrated into DSPs for programmatic buying. This streamlined process enables advertisers to achieve lower costs per acquisition and reduced CPMs, as evidenced by successful case studies from leading agencies.


Real-Time Reporting and Transparency


One of the significant advantages of sell-side curation is the ability to provide real-time reporting and transparency. SSPs manage the programmatic auction and can match advertiser data sets with third-party data graphs and publisher first-party data instantaneously. This eliminates the delays associated with traditional DSP-level curation, enabling partners to share measurement and reporting data more quickly.


Flexibility with Alternative Identifiers


Sell-side curation offers advertisers the flexibility to use alternative identifiers, bypassing the restrictions often imposed by DSPs. This approach allows for greater interoperability across various platforms and ID solutions, enhancing the ability to target audiences effectively without being limited to specific identifier systems.


Addressing DSP Concerns


Despite the benefits, DSPs are expressing concerns over transparency and control in audience curation. They highlight issues with cross-platform probabilistic audience matching and the lack of insight into ID solutions used to build segments. As the industry continues to adapt to the post-cookie environment, these tensions are likely to persist, emphasizing the need for closer collaboration and trust between all parties involved.


The Future of Programmatic Advertising


The rise of sell-side curation signifies a pivotal shift in the programmatic advertising landscape. As SSPs continue to innovate and expand their capabilities, they are positioning themselves as key players in the supply chain. This trend underscores the importance of adaptability and strategic thinking in navigating the evolving digital advertising ecosystem. By embracing these changes, advertisers can ensure effective audience targeting and campaign success in a cookie-less future.


In conclusion, the deprecation of third-party cookies is driving the programmatic advertising industry towards sell-side curation. This approach leverages first-party data and strategic partnerships to create robust PMPs, enhancing audience targeting and efficiency. As we move forward, it is essential to stay ahead of these trends and embrace innovative solutions to maintain a competitive edge in the ever-evolving ad tech landscape.

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