How to Navigate the Future of Programmatic

The future of programmatic is invariably shaped by the recent tectonic shifts we’ve seen taking place all across the ad tech industry—platform updates, the ongoing battle over identity, increased regulatory scrutiny, and new content consumption habits. 

New channels and devices bring with them evolving opportunities. It’s why we rebuilt our entire exchange architecture last year—to enable us to innovate for today’s omnichannel world. The expanding global regulations and rapidly changing platform environments continue to raise barriers to entry in our space. And the ever-engaged digital consumer means we must move faster each passing year.

All of these industry shifts also underscore the importance of the open internet and the value independent ad tech companies provide to the market. At Index, we believe that continuing our pursuit to create a fair and efficient marketplace—where everyone can compete on a level playing field—will benefit media owners, marketers, and consumers.

Who better to help us navigate and understand these changes than one of the foremost visionaries in our industry, Jeff Green, founder and CEO of The Trade Desk? He sat down with Index CEO Andrew Casale to discuss how to maximize all of the opportunities that an omnichannel world presents. Here are some of the key takeaways from the virtual fireside chat, “The Future of Programmatic in an Omnichannel World.” 

It’s time to bring more efficient scale to the programmatic supply chain

The conversation started with a look at the programmatic supply chain, as the future of programmatic isn’t just about scale. It’s about making the programmatic supply chain as efficient and effective as possible by unlocking the insights that come about through its massive scale. Price discovery is one such concept, and is key to enabling efficient scale by creating more transparency about the value of transactions between media owners and buyers.

As part of its focus on price discovery, The Trade Desk recently launched an initiative called Global Placement Identifier (GPID)—a unique identifier that represents an ad unit on a publisher’s site and helps accurately assess an impression opportunity. 

“We’re trying to figure out which [impressions] add the most amount of value to our advertisers. Those are pretty consistently the ones that have data that enables price discovery. And if an impression doesn’t have that we just pass it on,” said Green. 

We’ve seen that the economic incentive to enable price discovery has already arrived. On average, publishers on the Index Exchange platform with GPID enabled see bid rates 24% higher and CPMs twice as high as compared to publishers that aren’t using GPID.

“As the number of transactions taking place on our exchange grows and these transparent identifiers become far more available, it’s clear that publishers with the identifier enabled see higher bid rates and higher revenues.”

Andrew Casale, president and CEO
Index Exchange

Media owners must prepare a privacy-first approach to addressability

The future of identity—which in essence refers to attaching a numeric identifier to a profile in an anonymized way—is still one of the top conversations in the industry, and rightfully so. While it remains to be seen if Google will stick to its timeline to deprecate third-party cookies in 2023, we’ve already seen media buyers adopt universal IDs like Unified ID 2.0 and LiveRamp’s RampID, amongst others. 

Green warns, “Lots of publishers are making the same mistake they made with GDPR, which is they’re just procrastinating. They’re waiting for more clarity before they act.” He predicts that once cookies are deprecated, the open internet will see a dip that is most likely to affect publishers. DSPs and media buyers will allocate spend to media owners who use the identifiers that enable addressable campaigns and price discovery, and those that don’t will lose out on revenue.

“You, as a publisher, have to have a strategy around identity so that you can—in a privacy-safe way—provide relevant ads on your site. That’s the only way to preserve premium CPMs.”

Jeff Green, CEO and founder
The Trade Desk

For media owners that aren’t yet preparing, now’s the time to start. “There’s ample opportunity in the non-cookied web already with Safari, Firefox, and now Microsoft Edge,” says Casale. “We’re working with our customers to test different kinds of authentication strategies in these environments to prepare for whenever a Chrome decision does come.” 

Identity is critical for measurement and attribution

There’s a misconception that addressability and identity just enable targeting. However, attribution and measurement are arguably as important, if not more so. If a marketer can’t prove a return on their campaigns, they’re not going to allocate more budget.

“It’s a very important year for the future of measurement,” says Green, as developments in CTV are pushing measurement to the top of the conversation. Some in the industry are pushing to distill measurement down to simply calling an impression an impression, though this approach largely only benefits the walled gardens. 

“There’s a lot of tension between the open internet and walled garden [measurement] approach—and the future of the internet, the future of TV, and the future of journalism is at stake.”

Jeff Green, CEO and founder
The Trade Desk

“Context matters—in CTV, mobile, and elsewhere—and over-simplifying the value of an impression doesn’t account for how placement in a premium environment can drive stronger results throughout the funnel,” says Casale. Creating the proper measurement standard for the open internet will allow media owners to maximize the value of their premium content and ultimately create more content for consumers to enjoy. 

The future of programmatic CTV is open

While the fragmented CTV ecosystem makes measurement and frequency capping challenging for marketers, there is an upside. “Television is perfectly fragmented from my standpoint,” says Green. There’s a massive amount of premium content from a range of CTV publishers and platforms, which not only creates a lot of value for the consumer, but also creates healthy competition and growth across the market. 

“In order for the premium content to keep getting premium prices, there has to be a more open ecosystem. It’s the only way that it works,” says Green. Now it’s up to ad tech to foster a rich CTV marketplace that preserves the open ecosystem. 

It’s time to move beyond imperfect legacy solutions and innovate to bring all of the benefits of programmatic advertising to TV. By developing a common identifier and programmatic standards that fit CTV’s nuances, ad tech platforms can help marketers overcome existing challenges and optimize reach, frequency, and addressability across CTV platforms. 

An open marketplace delivers more demand and revenue potential for media owners, precision delivery with cost-effective CPMs for marketers, and a better viewing experience for consumers. 

These are just a few of the highlights from a lively and wide-ranging conversation, so be sure to watch the full webinar. 

Rachel Sullivan

Rachel Sullivan

Senior content marketing manager

As senior content marketing manager, Rachel Sullivan leads Index Exchange's content and social media strategies. She helps shape the stories, insights, and news that leaders across the advertising ecosystem need to advance the industry. Rachel previously managed content and digital marketing for a range of B2B technology companies and has both agency and in-house experience. Outside of work, you can find her traveling the world or exploring her home of New York City.

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