Can a single DSP give an advertiser access to all of the desired impressions available on the ad exchanges? I used to think the answer was yes. I thought each DSP had access to the same inventory and that each DSP had the capability to process ALL of the available opportunities from the exchanges. Ahhh, the naïve days of the early DSP era (my thinking was so 2009). I posed this question to most of the DSP owners that I work with and I am pleased to report that all of them were honest about the fact that their DSP couldn’t make every impression available to a single advertiser. The reality is that a single DSP can’t connect/ interact with the exchanges in a way that gives an advertiser full access to the inventory they are seeking.
So what is an advertiser to do? Use multiple DSP’s? (Yes). And what does this mean for potential DSP owners? If you are large holding company thinking about buying a DSP, doesn’t it reduce its value to you if you can’t build your entire “trading desk” around one DSP? I think the answer is yes. It seems to me that agencies need to focus on building a demand platform that has ability to integrate with the entire pool of available inventory. This will require working with multiple DSP’s, multiple ad networks and directly with publishers. For a demand side platform to be really valuable, and a single solution that can meet an advertiser’s needs, it needs to have access to all of the inventory in the marketplace (or as much as possible).
Imagine if a Search Marketing platform didn’t allow you to bid on all of the keywords that you wanted to purchase. You would end up using multiple platforms. Unfortunately, this is where we are with DSP’s. Will the answer be that DSP’s develop the capability to access all the exchange inventory, or will they end up differentiating themselves in another way? My guess is the latter. It is probably time to say goodbye to the concept of totally neutral platforms.
My birthday was last week and I got the usual assortment of phone calls, texts and Facebook shout outs from family and friends. I must admit that I don’t put the same value on a Facebook “Happy Birthday” wish as I do from someone that calls me or texts me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate a FB note but if all you have to do is logon to FB, notice its my birthday and type a note in 2 seconds, it is a wish that is devoid of some of the qualities that make a personal birthday wish special – that someone goes out of their way to remember your day and makes an effort to let you know. FB has commoditized “Happy Birthday” and changed its meaning to me. Not bad, just different.
I think the same can be said about the FB “Like” button. “Like” has made it so easy and effortless to tell everyone what you “Like”, that it diminishes the value of the intent. Effort is a key component in determining the level of a person’s interest. A lead form that asks for detailed information for a life insurance quote will yield much higher quality leads than a life insurance form that asks for three basic pieces of information. Effort weeds out lower quality and lower interest. As “Like” becomes ubiquitous, it’s value as an intent indicator is lower.
This is what I think this means for FB in terms of monetizing “Like” – it won’t be the new adwords (the home run they are hoping for) but it will be a leading source of data for audience targeting (still a decent opportunity). If FB really wants to turn their data into a powerful solution, they need to harvest real search intent, either on site, or off site – which I think is still very possible and likely to happen.