WTF is a Curated Marketplace?

The fragmentation within the supply chain has led to a lot of inefficiencies as well as several issues around brand safety and transparency. Now, the industry is faced with further challenges around the deprecation of the cookie and the growth of emerging platforms such as connected TV, which has boomed in the past year.

All of this is putting agencies under increasing pressure to differentiate from their competitors and show advertisers that they can offer true value. A survey we conducted with IAB Europe found that 32% of media buyers have set ‘differentiation from competitors’ as their primary supply buying strategic objective. And, to top it all off, facing compressed margins has meant that operational and trading efficiency for how they buy programmatic are also key priorities.

One solution? Curated marketplaces.

What is a curated marketplace?

Supply marketplaces, of course, aren’t a new concept for digital advertising. But curated marketplaces offer something a little different. They are essentially bespoke programmatic supply marketplaces that exist within a larger marketplace, designed and built to reduce challenges and enhance value.

Curated marketplaces enable programmatic buyers, sellers, or third parties to implement their supply strategies and leverage their core assets within a broad ad exchange, effectively providing the opportunity to build a private supply-side platform (SSP).

One thing to note about curated marketplaces is that media buyers can only access one via a curated deal, not through the open exchange. This means a buyer cannot just stumble into the marketplace ‘by accident’, they have to engage directly with the company behind it.

Within a curated deal, a curator – the company which has designed, built, and operates a curated marketplace – gives a trader access to specific parts of their marketplace rather than the entire shop. For a trader, this looks like a regular deal in their demand-side platform (DSP), and they manage and target it in the same way they usually would. Buyers are still purchasing inventory from the seller, but a curator is acting as a facilitator for the transaction.

What are the benefits of a curated marketplace?

Curation technology provides agencies with the ability to build strategic, goal-orientated marketplaces through a self-serve platform, while helping buyers to overcome a number of the challenges they face within the programmatic ecosystem.

Curated marketplaces give media buyers the opportunity to control their inventory sourcing and implement a centralised, differentiated supply strategy, meaning they’re able to work with chosen partners to curate supply based on their business goals.

This element of control is also valuable for advertisers, as they can build their own marketplaces and no longer rely on their buy-side partners to execute their supply decisions, instead having their partners execute campaigns through their curated marketplace.

Curated marketplaces can also provide more efficiency. They can be managed across trading teams, platforms, and regions, so agencies can easily centralise their supply strategy, targeting and reporting across DSPs to simplify campaign execution. This enables agencies to monitor and optimise against total spend, and other quality indicators, from which they can share deals with multiple buying seats across DSPs. Without this, spend is fragmented across multiple DSPs, each going on a different journey to reach the same supply. This centralisation makes it easier for buyers to track against spend commitments they have with publishers.

Furthermore, the centralisation of spend can lead to greater transparency into what technology fees are being paid and action dynamics. When buying across multiple DSPs and SSPs, it’s difficult to benefit from consistent transparency. A curated marketplace can be used as a single solution with consistent definitions to report on transparency. This data can then be actioned to refine supply strategy and adjust which sellers and partners are included within the marketplace.

Then there’s the benefits curated marketplaces can offer within identity with the deprecation of the cookie. With the loss of the third-party cookie on the way, buyers are having to seek out alternative identity solutions that don’t rely on third-party cookies, but continue to help them to target audiences.

Curated marketplaces enable buyers to use granular targeting to identify which impressions are cookieless or consentless at auction time, and decide which solutions they want to deploy. Publishers’ first-party data private marketplaces (PMPs) can be incorporated into these marketplaces, alongside semantic contextual targets, to reach relevant audiences through a blended inventory.

What’s next for curated marketplaces?

The loss of the third-party cookie will lead to increased fragmentation, as the reliance on publishers’ first-party data grows and the industry becomes dependent on multiple industry identifiers to achieve scale.

Media buyers would prefer it if their traders did not work through multiple point solutions. Curated marketplaces offer a solution to the fragmented ecosystem and can address the issues associated with said fragmentation, so will become a key part of media buying strategies.

Curated marketplaces enable media buyers to package together multiple inventory and data PMPs for traders to access first-party data at scale – and 62% of the respondents to our survey intend to leverage first-party data.

Moreover, 76% of respondents intend to leverage context and curated marketplaces make it easy to access a range of inventory which matches bespoke content relevant to campaigns. Also, if the curation technology provider supports industry IDs, multi-faceted audiences can be brought to the media buyer’s curated marketplaces and targeted at scale – something that 41% of those surveyed would be interested in.

Curated marketplaces can provide an engine for programmatic innovation and are a positive post-cookie solution that will be surfaced to media buyers in the coming years.

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