Paving the way: A Publisher’s Guide to TTD’s OpenPath

Ashley Wheeler

April 25, 2022 | 5 min read

By: Ashley Wheeler, VP of Seller Accounts at Magnite

The TradeDesk (TTD) recently shut off Google Open Bidding (OB) in connection with their launch of OpenPath, a product which connects TTD advertisers to publishers directly. TTD’s view is that by reducing the stepping stones on the path between demand and supply, they can “remove inefficiencies” and provide advertisers with “transparent and objective access” to premium inventory. While the sentiment of increased transparency and efficiency is great, the reality is that this additional path to demand creates more complexity and neglects the value that SSPs generate for publishers. Let’s explore.

The good, the reality, and the better

The Good: The shift to transparent and direct paths

The industry craves more direct and transparent paths between buyers and sellers. For instance, it’s becoming increasingly necessary to access data on who is bidding and when. Publishers also want more control of how demand is prioritized within their tech stack – activities that aren’t possible with OB. Additionally, the incremental ad tech fee on top of OB monetization impacts publisher revenue and the amount of buyer budgets going toward working media.

The industry wants more transparent and efficient ways of bringing advertisers and publishers closer together for mutual benefit, but DSPs alone aren’t the answer.

The Reality: DSPs can’t replicate SSPs’ value proposition

DSPs – and products such as OpenPath – can’t match the value that an SSP provides for publishers. Holistic yield and inventory management tools across demand sources are critical needs for publishers who want to optimize revenue and user experience across their properties. Unless DSPs are willing to invest large amounts of resources into building out a sell-side infrastructure, they won’t be able to deliver the same features and value to publishers as SSPs.

Finally, DSPs’ primary responsibility is to the buyer and, as such, they will optimize price on their behalf. SSPs on the other hand seek to maintain price integrity for publishers while helping to achieve a fair market price for buyers. Protecting publisher interests in this market making role is paramount.

The Better: Innovative SSPs improve audience capabilities

SSPs’ position in the ad transaction allows them to provide a comprehensive and transparent view of audiences, managing multiple integrations that efficiently connect addressable inventory with the buy side to assist in maximizing publisher revenue.

With the impending deprecation of third party cookies and continued privacy changes, buyers are looking to publishers to reach their audiences in quality, brand safe environments. Defining and showcasing these audiences are critical – as direct deals, “seller defined audiences” in an OpenRTB bid request, or otherwise. This is why it becomes even more important to have supply side partners that can guide publishers and operate across the spectrum of addressability – contextual, first party, cohorts, UIDs – and across the media landscape, to measure, manage and monetize those audiences.

What this means for publishers

Overall, publishers should prepare for an industry shift to a handful of direct paths where buyers want to work closely with publishers and the SSPs that support them. However, in the short term publishers need to safeguard against any potential loss of revenue as a result of TTD’s new moves, and can do so in a number of ways.

Explore alternative paths

The initial concern for publishers is the potential reduction in demand as a result of TTD’s elimination of the Google OB path. In reality, we expect spend will repath and grow. TTD budgets will remain intact and industry-wide re-routing of spend should mean that overall demand does not decline for individual publishers.

For those that rely on OB to access TTD ad spend for a portion or all of their inventory, publishers must explore alternative new paths such as Prebid, Amazon TAM, SpringServe, etc. in order to maintain spend levels.

Renewed Focus on Prebid for Optimization and Yield

As DSPs move toward direct integrations, Prebid tools that enable wrapper optimization and A/B testing functionality will become increasingly important. Additionally, with DSPs now acting as bidders within the wrapper, Prebid Server may take on a renewed importance as publishers seek to preserve their page loads and user experience. As such, publishers need expertise and tools from their SSP partners to power their inventory and drive increased yield.

Balancing fees versus SSP value

While OpenPath may be sold as a way of driving efficiencies – including pricing transparency and efficiency – it does not eliminate the ad tech tax altogether.

Would lower fees through a direct DSP integration outweigh the positive effects SSPs can have on yield? Highly unlikely. SSP expertise is as important as ever, and TTD is not interested in features such as yield management given their need for buy-side objectivity.

SSPs Continue to Play a Crucial Role

TTD’s move away from Open Bidding is the real win for advertisers and publishers as it shines a light on the benefits of working more closely with the supply side to maximize value. As the market demands for increased control and transparency grow, the obvious solutions will be to create direct paths between buyers and sellers where there’s greater accountability, addressability, and efficiency in putting budgets to work. SSPs offer these benefits through a range of audience, yield optimization and holistic reporting tools. Coupled with sell-side expertise and guidance, these factors are why publishers will need to rely on their SSP partners more than ever in this emerging DSP direct world.

Tags: DSP, Publisher, Seller, SSP

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