Celebrated organisational consultant Marie Kondo asks, “Does this spark joy?” when considering which items to keep, and which to throw away when tidying up her home. Interestingly, if I were to distil down much of the activity of the last ten-to-twelve months in programmatic advertising, it would resemble a similar process.
Call it SPO, DPO, or vendor consolidation: what many publishers, agencies, and DSPs have been doing this year is their own version of Marie Kondo. Putting their partners side by side and judging by their own specific criteria which ones are most meaningful and which they want to commit to working with more deeply and strategically.
This urge to go deeper with fewer is understandable. Our market has changed more rapidly in the past decade than at any previous time, undergoing massive growth. Zenith predicts advertisers will spend $98bn on programmatic advertising next year, representing 68% of their total digital media spend, and largely, the industry’s initial response to this was additive: We added more sites, more apps, more partners, more code on page, more latency, more complexity and overall more pain.
This year though, things started to change. We took some time to regroup, re-focus and re-imagine the way we wanted to do business. We began to strip back the layers and audit our partners and systems, to streamline and simplify. As a result, the underlying direction of travel shifted this year towards a simpler, cleaner, more open way of decision- making that we can all support, as we look to go deeper with fewer partners to greater effect.
SPO is a sterling example of this. Buyers are no longer looking at exchanges as mere pipes, but as potential partners. Instead of hitting “Select All,” buyers are consolidating their supply partners and choosing those that give them the most direct, transparent and effective path to the publisher.
Meanwhile, we’re moving from a world of hundreds of bespoke cookie syncs and identifiers to an adoption of standardized solutions. To this end, the concept of Universal IDs promises to make transactions simpler and reduce bulk on the page, moving identification and mapping to a server-side environment. The stage has been set for universal identification with open-source initiatives like Prebid, which has gained enormous traction over the last year, streamlining industry standards and inspiring deeper collaboration towards like-minded goals. Once a fledgling project, the Prebid ecosystem now supports more than 150 demand partners, over 15 analytics providers, and numerous publishers. Much of Prebid’s appeal is its simplicity: it centralized header bidding in a transparent, open way.
A need for simplicity is also informing the development of products, tools and services across the industry. We’ve recently seen the pain points publishers face with their header set-up, from managing multiple partners, to the complexity of technical deployment, to being able to see their partners’ activity quickly and easily. As a result, we developed a set of tools, built on top of Prebid called Demand Manager, which helps publishers solve for these challenges and move towards a simpler future. We also acquired RTK.io, a leading provider of header bidding solutions, which provides greater control and simplicity to our publishers.
All of this adds up to a way of working and an industry culture that’s very different from what it was a year ago. This digital decluttering has led to deeper relationships and more collaborative decision-making.
Ultimately, one could argue that programmatic is experiencing its own version of tidying up. The big issues of the day, SPO, identity, transparency, and open source, are all about becoming less complex and making things simpler, more efficient, and dare I say — more joyful.