eBay has revealed a “five-fold” increase in the volume of ad impressions traded programmatically via its private ad exchange since it launched last September.
The company has added a further 100 advertisers since January, taking the current total to more than 200 advertisers, while the volume of impressions that can be traded via the exchange has risen to five billion.
Programmatic trading via both its open and private ad exchange services now accounts for more than half of its entire display business, according to eBay’s head of programmatic trading Guy Jones.
He told The Drum that although the majority of ad deals are currently made across its open ad exchange, he expects the number of deals to be made via its private ad exchange to double next year.
“The budgets currently being allocated to private marketplaces are much smaller than for open but that’s changing fast. I expect our private marketplace will more than double in terms of business we do through it next year,” he said.
eBay will focus its efforts in the coming year to unlocking further data-rich insights for advertisers for its private ad exchange. This will involve monitoring and segmenting groups of people, on an anonymous basis, who display certain long-term purchase behaviours, to ensure advertisers' messages are "welcome" and helpful.
"When we work closely with the trading desk with specific advertisers, the performance we drive through the private marketplace, in terms of results, beats the open one hands down," he said.
The majority of programmatic trading is still funded via direct marketing budgets, but this is also changing, with more brands starting to unlock their brand budgets to invest in the space, according to Jones.
“What we are expecting to see accelerate is true brand spend being transacted programmatically, and a private marketplace lends itself better to that.
“I expect more brand spend to go towards it but that also goes hand in hand with the technology. The tech stack must respond to an advertiser who is interested in measuring brand metrics and one that is measuring a campaign on a cost-per-acquisition (CPA) basis for example,” he added.
The company will continue to evaluate how it can extend its programmatic trading to mobile, but is yet to find a solution it is satisfied with, according to Jones.
“User experience is our number one priority. We will only run ads on mobile when we find a solution that enhances, rather than detracts from, the user experience. As an industry, I don’t believe we’re there yet, but it is an ongoing priority of ours,” he said.
Jones believes private marketplaces will have a bigger role in years to come but that they won’t necessarily endure in their current format.
“The challenge for me is to evolve the business we have now in a way that makes private deals become ever more scalable. The idea of ‘private marketplace’ won’t necessarily endure. By private marketplace I mean hiving off a segmentation of inventory for people to compete within. What I think will endure and grow is the idea of making the inventory you have available programmatically, targetable at a granular level.
“So for example instead of having an open marketplace where everything is bought on advertisers’ data and a private one where everything is bought on our data, you have one combined marketplace where people can genuinely scale those private deals they are doing with us to a much wider pool of inventory that we are making available to them.
"Private deals is what I’m talking about – they will continue to exist but not necessarily in the private marketplaces in their current form,” he said.
eBay is now exploring opportunities around creating “hybrid” models, in which a private deal can be agreed for a fixed volume and price, but traded programmatically, according to Jones.
eBay launched the private ad exchange on Rubicon Project’s REW platform, opening up previously unavailable audience data to advertisers in a real-time-bidding (RTB) environment. It has not yet revealed which advertisers are using the private ad exchange.