The Big Story: SPO Spring Cleaning

The Big Story podcast

If you want a transparent, low-fee path from marketer to publisher, does it really make sense for a DSP and an SSP to participate in the process?

Increasingly, DSPs are acting like SSPs, and SSPs are acting like DSPs. And they are testing out this swap in the video and connected TV market.

This week, PubMatic introduced Activate, which gives buyers direct access to online video and CTV supply. A couple weeks before, Magnite unveiled ClearLine, which gives buyers direct access to the same type of video and TV inventory.

These products come more than a year after The Trade Desk unveiled OpenPath, a DSP product that goes direct to publishers. There’s also one thing all three of these products have in common: They’re disintermediating either a DSP or SSP, all while vigorously claiming not to.

Elsewhere in the TV market, an SSP holds appeal. Last week, we broke the news that Cadent is the highest bidder for the bankrupt SSP EMX. Cadent’s platform already operates from end to end, and now it has added tech (and talent) to hook into publishers.

All of these moves show how programmatic ad tech is conquering the connected TV market, but in a different configuration than display advertising. In TV, demand is high, supply is constrained, and there’s a low tolerance for high ad tech fees.

Buyers and sellers want to enable automation and data-driven targeting and frequency controls but are less interested in using ad tech to liquidate remnant inventory, the discount ploy that originally pulled in marketers and publishers. In this type of environment, a single ad tech pipe makes more sense on paper – and now we will see if they make more sense in practice.

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