Who Stewarded the Summer Spend: Exchange Seat Types

Each and every brand that buys inventory in the Index Exchange marketplace uses a demand-side platform to do so. This tool for connecting to programmatic supply is a necessity. However, the entity a brand chooses to steward that demand-side platform hinges on a bunch of different factors. Index Exchange regularly looks at exactly who is buying programmatic inventory on a brand’s behalf – the entities range from agency to trading desk, and sometimes even a marketer herself. We call these entities “seat types”, as in seats in the Index Exchange market.

All brand dollars we see come from five different types of seats: agencies, trading desks, managed service providers/networks, publishers, or marketers. Here’s how they’re classified:

  • Agency: A service provider focused on multiple aspects of client advertising. Some of the agency seats belong to independent agencies, while many are subsidiaries of massive holding companies. These agencies aren’t only focused on programmatic buying, though many of them have a strict media buying focus.
  • Trading Desk: Centralized hubs within agencies focused specifically on audience and programmatic buying.
  • Managed Service/Network: Aggregators of ad space, responsible for selling supply to advertiser clients.
  • Publisher: Publishers that buy in Index Exchange are focused on audience extension. The goal of audience extension for publishers is to site traffic for a further monetization option for advertisers. Publishers track their visitors and enable advertisers to buy those impressions as they travel across the web.
  • Marketer: Some marketers choose to do their programmatic media buying in-house. They sign up for a demand-side platform, hook into exchanges, and direct programmatic spend themselves.

This post details who the top spending buyers, by seat type, are, and investigates their exchange behavior from June to August 2016.

The Who: Top Buyers, by Seat Type

To put faces to the name, so to speak, below you’ll find a bunch of graphs that show the biggest spenders, by seat type, during the summer months. We also added the top brands each of these entities represent.

chart of top-agency buyers by ad spend, MediaVest at 100

The graph above depicts top spending agencies. Three of the five are part of the holding company Publicis Groupe and Team Detroit is an agency responsible for handling Ford’s advertising. The only independent agency of the bunch is TCAA, who handles the media planning and buying for a number of Toyota dealer conglomerates, and others.

Top Spending Brands through Agency seats June - Aug 2016

As you can see above, the top three brands which spend the most in Index Exchange from June to August were automotive companies. Ford, as we know, relied on Team Detroit to direct its programmatic media spend, and its position in the top spot is logical, considering its agency landed in the biggest agency spenders.

Comcast pops up here, having given significant budget to agencies during the summer months, and we’ll see them again a little later on. As you may know from prior posts, Comcast essentially owned the summer – the brand was the biggest spender in Index Exchange during July and August, which aligned perfectly with its promotion of the Rio 2016 games.

top-trading-desk buyers by spend June - Aug 2016

Above are the biggest programmatic desks. Accuen, Omnicom Media Group’s desk, stewarded the bulk of trading desk spend.

Top trading desk seats spending June - Aug 2016

Much like we saw with agencies, automotive brands flocked to trading desks for programmatic media management this summer. Two of the five are car brands (General Motors and Fiat Chrysler), while General Motors dealers also landed on the list.

Unilever, the massive CPG and programmatic evangelist, spent the most through trading desks. Unilever relies on its own desk within Mindshare to direct its programmatic spent.

top managed service / network buyers by spend June - Aug 2016

Above are the managed service providers and networks. Note that Rocket Fuel is consistently our top network buyer, so it’s no surprise the company landed itself here over the summer.

top managed service brands through managed service / network seats June - Aug 2016

And here we see Comcast again! Remember, Comcast spent a good deal through agency seats from June to August and siphoned budget to the network realm as well. Its position as a big brand spender through agencies and networks evidences how much the company spent this summer on promotion. We link this back to the Olympics, although Comcast regularly lands within the top ten spenders exchange-wide during any given time period.

top buyers through marketer seats June - Aug 2016 with Netflix at 100

This seat is my personal favorite – the marketer owned, in-house buyer. These brands have the savvy to get a programmatic operation up and running in-house, which is no small feat. These marketers are responsible for planning, bidding, buying, and reconciliation – soup to nuts. Bringing a programmatic operation in-house is tricky, but to these marketers it’s likely an important way to safeguard their data and completely own their approach to how they reach audiences across the web.

Top spending publishers June - Aug 2016. Roger Media at 100

The publishers who spent the most on audience extension show programmatic savvy, too. Many publishers that utilize audience extension aim to lighten the ads on their pages, but still find a way to monetize their rich audiences. AutoTrader’s presence is interesting – the publisher likely collects scores of data on a visitor’s auto preferences and intentions and then packages those users for auto advertisers. Rogers Media is one of Canada’s biggest publishers (and one of our oldest clients).

How the Seat Types Compare

Now that you get the “who”, let’s dig into the “how” and the “how much”. Here’s how they stack up.

month-over-month spend by seat type June - Aug

The majority of spend within Index Exchange from June to August came from managed service/network seats. Managed service/network spend rose steadily from June to August, with August’s spend 18% higher than June’s.

All of the other seats dipped in July and rose again in August, except for the Publishers. Publisher audience extension budget stayed virtually the same each month, which suggests publishers have a set budget for engaging in the tactic. This makes sense, considering it’s rarely a publisher’s only bread and butter and instead a means for a little, yet reliable, revenue boost.

The biggest month for the marketers was June. In June, we found Netflix in the top ten spenders exchange-wide, which aligned perfectly with the release of one of its top shows, Orange is the New Black.

share-of-spend by seat type June - Aug 2016

As mentioned above, the majority of spend was stewarded by the managed service/network seat – 46% of exchange-wide spend, to be exact. Agencies and trading desks had nearly the same budget, while marketers stood firm at 10%. Marketer spend dipped slightly above this in late 2014, but over 2015 and through 2016, it’s remained very close to the 10% threshold.

high-level-exchange-stats by seat type June - Aug 2016

The graph above includes some tell-tale information. Managed service and network spent most and bought the most impressions, however, they had the lowest average clear prices between all seat types. Second lowest clear prices went to the pubs, while trading desks had the highest, followed closely by marketers and agencies.

Trading Desks and Marketers Direct Biggest Proportion of Private Marketplace Spend

open marketplace vs. private marketplace spend by seat type June - Aug 2016

The graph above shows the break down between open marketplace and private marketplace spend, by seat type. As you can see, trading desks put a whopping 26% of budget into the PMP channel. Whopping may sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not – the average breakdown exchange wide is 91% open and 9% private.

open-vs-private-clear-prices by seat type June - Aug 2016

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