After discussions with dozens of small, mid, and large publishers, the common theme on PMP (private marketplace deal) success is monetizing first-party data — it’s using a relationship to illuminate an ad segment that wouldn’t be obvious to a buyer in an open auction. First-party data is any data the publisher has which can inform an ad-buy decision. Common examples include job titles and other profile info, as well as actions that a user has taken which demonstrate purchase intent (e.g. user visited camera review pages).
Monetize that First-Party Data
As I mentioned above, the key in successful PMPs is monetizing first-party data. For example, there’s a pub who has a series of sites for college students and there’s a specific piece of first-party data. If a user has taken a specific action on one of the sites, it’s a huge predictor of success for credit card ad campaigns.
Another example, a car review site can pitch to buyers “this segment is for car buyers interested in mid-sized sedans.”
In both of these examples, the user has done something that demonstrates extremely high purchase intent, but the bidder doesn’t have that information — building trust with the bidder to buy this segment is typically where the value of a PMP exists. Because of the high purchase intent, bidders will frequently pay very high rates. Once they see that the segment performs, the bidders can also use the PMP to expand their cookie pools and bid on the same users on other sites.
Aside segments annotated by first-party data, a handful of pubs have mentioned that high-impact inventory can be beneficial with PMPs — the price is usually kicked up very high while artificially limiting access to the inventory.
There is some illusory chasing going on here though, as nothing prevents a pub from setting up the same exact unit and just slapping high floors on it on the open auction. You’ll have to test it with your audience.
But I’ll monetize “relationships”!
Without some sort of value-add over the open auction, the only kind of relationship that matters is when the publisher’s PMP manager’s son plays baseball with the agency’s buyer’s son, or they were roommates in college together — those are classic cheat-mode relationships. A handful of cold-calls and monthly or quarterly check-ins does not make a cheat-mode relationship, and there’s no value-add over an open auction. If anything, those calls and emails about what can already be purchased directly on the open auction is actually a nuisance to most buyers. The bidder doesn’t get anything they can’t get on open auction.
If you are seeking to utilize your sales force and can’t monetize first-party data, there are potential gains available from reaching out to major agencies and advertisers and asking them to whitelist you on the open auction. Some bidders are extremely restrictive in their bidding, and getting whitelisted can provide non-negligible lift — however, you have to have the bidder in mind (because they won’t show up in your reporting), and some indication that they’d bid on a non-negligible portion of your inventory.
Efforts to test their lift are the same as above — block the bidder out on random impressions based on a random KVP (Key-value pair). This white list outreach strategy often only benefits small to midsize pubs with niche audiences and specific bidders that can be shortlisted for outreach. Large brand-name pubs usually get whitelisted anyways.
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