Private Market Places

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Private Marketplaces (PMPs) are becoming popular among advertisers who are seeking not only scale but ad quality, as traditional ad networks get left behind due to multiple problematic instances of non-transparency, re-brokering and malicious fraud with campaigns. The following guide provides insight into the emergence and importance of PMPs. Brand safety is primarily the main concern when an advertiser places their trust within the malevolent hands of networks that are sophisticated at gaming the system. Untrustworthy parties can capitalize on the ease of laying blame on “non-compliant” publishers that take part in activities such as click flooding and or take advantage of performance-based metrics such as CPI to inhibit credit for actions that indeed did not attribute. For the purposes of this guide, we will be discussing primarily PMPs for the purposes of campaigns in general. The allocation of budgets to automated technology provides a level of confidence that ads are properly segmented on premium level media publishers.

Definition of Private Marketplace

A PMP is a transaction that takes place under the pretense that is real-time bidding and is by invitation only. Imagine an exclusive party and in order to get inside you need that special invite with the secret code word to get in (DEAL ID) and then you can access all the VIP lounges (premium publishers) that exist. All joking aside, this is how a PMP works. Not everyone can get that special invite, but for those that do – it’s open season on bidding for VIP access. In essence, PMP deals will provide media buyers priority to buy inventory before it becomes available through having already direct relationships with premium publishers. This facilitates a personalized package to meet exact needs regarding fill, pricing and budget.

The main difference between a PMP and an open marketplace is that a PMP provides publishers with preferential treatment in that they can control which kind of advertisers and creatives will be presented on their app or site making it an efficient strategy rather than manually managing individual campaigns that want to buy directly. Yes, CPMs have the tendency to be on the pricey side due to the competitive nature of PMPs and as advertisers compete for the highest quality inventory available. This type of logic is not new, as you can see any major publisher running their ads on a CPM basis.

The share of digital video being traded programmatically is growing at an almost exponential rate. It is fair to say that there will be significant growth with advertisers who choose to employ Private Marketplace strategies while the remaining advertisers will buy their inventory via open RT. Furthermore, video represents almost 50% of the current spend going towards this area. (eMarketer, n.d.)

BrightRoll for example, owned by Verizon Media, has been able to produce a truly global private marketplace for video campaigns whereby insertion orders essentially become obsolete. The integration process is relatively seamless and allows for the optimization of audiences to avoid cases of duplication. Reporting is centralized in a manner whereby it makes it relatively easy to discern what optimization is necessary.


The main issue with PMPs is that advertisers are indeed under the power of the publisher considering they may only choose to sell a percentage of their inventory in a PMP. However there are many benefits to making PMPs one of the main stays within the paid media mix.

Publisher and Advertiser Transparency

How many times have advertisers and or publishers been in a situation with ad networks whereby they have no clue where their ads are running or what kind of ads are running on their platform? In some cases, apps or site names may be passed but may be falsified. The lack of transparency in the ad space is one of the hindrances that will soon no longer exist or be a pain point for stakeholders within the digital marketing space. Now with PMPs the advertiser and the publisher will both have a crystal-clear snapshot of what kind of environment is being projected to their respective audiences. Not only this, but more importantly the CPM price can no longer just be dictated arbitrarily to the client, as the CPM can remain floating based on eCPM or can be fixed with max bids. Furthermore, creatives can be dynamic and transparent at the same time.

Efficiencies with Premium Inventory 

The idea that the programmatic space allows for efficiency is now an evident reality. In order to access premium inventory, direct buys would make it so expensive and daunting. Now advertisers can swiftly set new buys in real time on premium level websites or apps. Furthermore, the segmentation can allow for targeting at a category level whereby an advertiser can set the vertical and audience that they wish to touch. All in all, this type of offering saves time and allows for marketing teams to work cohesively in a manner that enables accountability from the moment a campaign goes live. While many learnings can take place throughout the course of a campaign it is imperative to maintain a level of confidence that can only be attained through experience.

It’s Cheaper and will be the Standard 

Not only are PMPs becoming the industry norm as they become available on the largest programmatic exchanges such as DoubleClick, AppNexus etc, buyers are getting access to premium inventory at a lower cost. Because of the nature of eCPMs and the auto regulation of the marketplace, CPM pricing is cheaper and lies somewhere between the cost of buying on an open exchange and insertion order quotations.

Technology Replacing a Sales Team 

Many brands now have their own agency internal team to work with strategic partners via a PMP type set up. This reduces the amount of sales bureaucracy that is required to get a campaign up and running. Once a PMP has been facilitated and granted, provided due diligence has been completed, there is no real need to manage a direct sales team as this can be expensive and time-consuming. There will still be that inherent need for teams to upsell direct buys rather than giving the priority towards PMPs, however if all stakeholders buy into PMPs the benefits are maximized.


As PMP’s remain relatively niche and new to the online marketing scene, publishers and platforms are allowing themselves to be optimal for advertisers to plug themselves in. There are many issues such as the inherent focus to solely concentrate on maximizing revenue with a short-term vision, however there are many best practices that have been accumulated over time with experience that todo Mobile would like to share.

Be Data Driven 

It’s easy to say that being data driven is essential to getting the best bang for your buck. A wide array of data is available via open market RTB purchases. Where are the lowest CPMs that generate the highest CTRs for example? The real trick is to have a deep understanding of all the sources of data available and discern which sources can optimize creative in the most effective manner. Through the execution of brand campaigns that contain a variety of data insights, we can comprehend the entire campaign production process and what is required to implement data-driven creative that maximizes spend. Provided that one can execute proper due diligence in their data driven insights, a shortlist of PMP candidates can be generated and then pursued.

Know your Audience 

When programmatic came onto the scene around 2010 there were large publishers that grew immensely and created a surplus of unsold inventory. Problems arose by the fact that you could access premium inventory at a discounted price but then anything left would be auctioned to the highest CPM. This creates a never-ending binding issue with audience targeting. Having the market run this way on large publishers does not guarantee having any intelligence who is viewing an advertiser’s ads. Hence the birth of programmatic advertising. In a nutshell RTB will allow for quick targeting enabling ads to be auctioned off on a per-case basis, which signifies that users within the targeted audience will be presented the ad. Media operations personally need to know their targeting criteria and how that is affecting their impression count. In basic terms, the more you target the less traffic you receive. You want to work with a partner that will allow you to see the available impressions based on targeting. Working with brands that have strict criteria and publishers that are high maintenance can be a double-edged sword. Having access to features that allow you to select specific publishers and input targeting criteria from there is the best practice in order to get the maximum traffic available. From there the deal can be created along with the deal ID. The level of forecasting can allow for understanding engagement and overall brand impact through prospecting. Targeted PMP’s across many publishers within a deal ID allows for granular targeting based on GPS, rich media formats, platforms in order to further discover unique audiences. It makes it easy once you can adjust targeting based on available impressions and saves the heartache of learning through trial and error.

Relationships Still Matter! 

Even though machine learning, AI and programmatic may lead to credence that humans are gradually being cut out of the picture, this really is not the case at least for the interim. It’s of upmost importance to have good relationships with your publishers and DSP partners. Stakeholders within the DSP and Publisher space (and their Programmatic staff manning the SSP machine) are instrumental to owning responsibility and maintaining a trusting relationship between client and agency. These people help make or break a campaign so it’s important to go the extra mile in establishing positive communication and properly identifying growth opportunities. Their customer success manager understands the client’s product/service and will most likely already have a strategic level approach to the objectives of the campaigns. It’s funny because this person wears a couple hats, they are not only the client’s main POC at the DSP but simultaneously the agency’s go to person representing the client.

It’s essentially a two-way street in business for mutual gain and in order to get better deals it is imperative to be in the good books. This means working with SSPs and publishers that generate solid traffic without technical hiccups. DSP account managers should be seconds away from receiving a friendly phone call and should act as cheerleaders in your court. The importance of teamwork is significant with dedicated teams working parallel for the success of campaigns. In some instances, there are no hard deadlines present for getting a deal up and running however, working swiftly with teams even if there are time differences can make or break a campaign on its own. We’ve had instances where our partners are based in opposite time zones which makes it an ever-challenging facet to cumulative delays occurring. When a client has an account manager that is on the ball and that can be available in any given moment and who also has the experience that comes with executing successful campaigns, half the battle is already won. Excellent account managers are few and far between and really make the most difference when it comes to establishing healthy relationships that yield excellent results. Striking up conversations that are not focused on business makes it all the better as well.

Are Deals Really the Best Solutions for your Advertiser? 

Holistically speaking deals by themselves are limited. Brands today need to be versatile and adjust their budgets across a hybrid of media strategies whether it be for engagement or performance. The two are closely related as you become enthralled into the deal space. Completion rates are highly scrutinized and can be over wrought with analyzation. A test could be seemingly paused within a relatively short time. Do advertisers really want to risk throwing away hard earned budgets once a test is showing discouraging results? Deals should be part of the mix but how much of it is still uncertain. The direct deal market along with traditional ad networks have more or else adjusted to a PMP type offering and this in turn has created a monolithic scenario in which advertisers benefit with maximized transparency. It’s ultimately bringing teams closer together and this works.

The biggest issue regarding the feasibility of deals is solely on marketplace pricing and fluctuations. Many networks and or publishers can do direct deals and earn a lot more revenue along with providing better results. In some cases, it’s necessary to do direct deals. In the name of advertising and relationships PMPs will never be 100% AI controlled in our lifetime. Even that on its own is a bold statement, however the human condition in negotiating max bids can only be done one on one. Some advertisers may be very lenient as far as seeing results over the course of an established period in order to justify further investment into the PMP space. This is smart and is the right idea. For now, everyone mostly has a good diversified, if not consolidated, marketing mix. PMPs can significantly increase the turnaround rates on campaigns through intelligent bidding and segmentation. If criteria and due diligence is applied accordingly prior to campaign launch and through testing, PMPs will soon take over based on the reach available and the communication that takes place between buyer and client. The idea that PMPs will turn into the stock market is no joke. Running rates and pricing will follow an established norm either through the IAB or any other governing body. So, the short answer to the question are deals really the best solution for your advertiser? The short answer is yes. Everything indicates that it is going in that direction.

Taking on private auction or programmatic direct is the main decision to make. Programmatic guaranteed or preferred deals can be more complex in their nature. Each one lays on a different area of the “impression waterfall” and has different implications of maximizing available inventory along with the pricing that goes along with it. By deciphering the nuances between these strategies one can really become an expert at buying. This takes a lot of experience and requires campaign management across a spectrum of different budgets and criteria. In order to succeed properly a long-term vision needs to be ultimately established and maintained. The commitment to programmatic must be long term no matter what. Campaigns can show signs of complete failure within seven days then begin to show a positive trend towards high engagement. It’s important to commit to creatives prior and dynamically target accordingly as that is also paramount. A whole guide could go into this topic, but this is regarding private marketplace strategies and it is indeed a trading position first most.

Be Patient 

Understanding a publisher’s PMP capabilities is significant for generating a level of familiarity on how deep a publisher has invested internally on becoming proficient. In a sense the SSP ad tech software that is employed by publishers to upsell and manage their advertising space may be hedging with competing companies. This type of set up allows publishers to essentially sell ad space to everyone including ad exchanges, networks and DSPs all in parallel simultaneously.  This can create a bit of difficulty getting in with a publisher as many will not prioritize test budgets considering the large ones will be automating inventory fill levels while matching campaign criteria with the impressions that are available according to yield optimization. It takes a level of patience to ensure one can secure the traffic that is requested. Outside of bids it’s important to know the reality of SSPs and how they are connected to as many DSPs, exchanges and networks that are available. There are going to exist premium advertisers that can spend significantly more budget for the best quality ad impressions so one needs to understand if the SSP can facilitate preferred or direct deals.

On the other end of the spectrum, some publishers are newly dipping their toes into this and sales reps promise the world. For a flawless setup, do your due diligence, get in touch with their programmatic team and get a handle on their best practices’ implementation. This being said platforms need to be able to support different advertising formats. In some cases, display, push, video, native, rewarded and even playables need to be accommodated. It’s best to get a list of specs to optimize the campaign fully. Publishers will then in a sense optimize campaigns that are yielding the best revenue along with user experience. Having control over display is another big question mark when it comes to campaigns such as alcohol and or gambling. These types of campaigns can push readers away therefore if an SSP has filters set up for black and whitelists it can help prevent inventory from being tainted with display. Some publishers will take certain campaigns, and some will not. Certain DSPs have the right tools in place to automatically block campaigns from appearing on specific pubs. With time once you have been able to generate a level of trust with your marketing partners, they may provide access to a self-serve SSP in order for you to manage specific inventory without any interference. Self-operations can work really well and that should be your overall goal in order to maximize the number of buyers on your team while increasing advertising revenue.

Set Some Expectations 

So, you have a big budget, now what? Just because you want to spend $X amount in a geo doesn’t mean you always can due to limited inventory or technical difficulties connecting an advertisers DSP and a publishers SSP together. More than likely it will be necessary to split those PMP dollars across several deals and see if they can use up the budget. Scaling may be a factor for whatever reason and avails (available impressions on x inventory) may not always be 100% fulfilled. Third party blocks and advertiser blocks may be in play. Not only that but the distribution of ad dollars may not be a steady overall day to day stream, and one could find themselves to be in a situation where they are fully dependent on DSP tech along with SSP integration/support on the publisher end. Providing yourself with enough lee way time to get live is essential to providing realistic and proper expectations with clients.

When you look back to KPIs that have been agreed upon formally or informally prior to a campaign launch, it’s worth reiterating your expectations to all stakeholders so that all partners are in the know whether they are gradually being met or if not what can be rectified in order to correct any hiccups that are preventing KPI success. At the end of the day PMPs are not some sort of test campaign to see if it works, it’s a long-term investment that requires setting the goals within the relationship in which the campaign is governed. The best way to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding expectations is to fully understand the layout of the inventory and to communicate with complete transparency in order to persevere through any temporary problems.

Keep an Eye on it 

Believe it or not, just because you want to spend doesn’t mean you can always spend. Check if the PMP deals are indeed running. Check that the spends are going and the fill rates are high amongst other metrics. Troubleshoot with DSP and PMP partners if need be. Many publishers are quite sophisticated and will take advantage of privileged information in order to pique the interest of buyers for their PMPs. Publishers may have their staff monitor what advertisers are buying ad space on the open exchange and begin to manipulate pricing. This can allow for people to meet a lot faster and to ultimately set up a PMP deal. It’s important to scrutinize the aggressive sales tactics that are present within the industry in order to avoid vulnerability with regards to losing out on a PMP buy because of negligence on monitoring the fluctuations of floating pricing.

With regards to KPI monitoring it is something that requires on going reconciliation as far as understanding whether campaign performance is trending positively or negatively. If you’re running rewarded media for instance, you may be relatively at ease with 90% completion rates on video but while running native placements or traditional display you may be daunted by the reality of 20% rates. Either way video seems to be the right format for PMPs, and creative refreshes are conducive towards being able to relax and let the campaign do the work. There are so many times where campaigns fail to meet their goals and although monitoring indeed took place, issues such as over delivery or more accurately overzealous account managers wanting to make their next commission pay cheque increase accordingly, may impose a shifting of the gears upwards over the course of a weekend and come Monday most of the allocated budget has been spent.

Some PMP deals are so flexible and open that even though an IO is facilitated, the contract only may say a maximum CPM price and the period by which a campaign can be run. The CPM may not even be written in stone and the advertiser will sort of leave it up to the market to decide. This is where problems can also arise solely based on how expensive it can get for an advertiser that is sifting through “challenging” inventory. It’s worth reiterating having a dedicated programmatic team that can monitor PMP deals daily to ensure that the client is not being taken to the cleaners relative to industry standards and that campaigns can be optimized and managed accordingly.

PMP Guaranteed 

Private Marketplace – Guaranteed allows for accessing scale along with the predictability and brand safety of buying directly with publishers. This is very similar to a direct buy and does require groundwork, contacts along with a level of trust with publishers. Guaranteed deals have the ability to maximize revenue for publishers and yield the best results for advertisers through premium level discovery. In a perfect setup the security of having an agreed upon price set in stone can work quite well with buyer and seller properly committing to a deal. The access to premium ad inventory is a big plus for advertisers along with the guaranteed delivery ensuring that all parties are aware of the exact amount of impressions that will be generated. In general, programmatic guaranteed deals are very beneficial for publishers looking for scale and for advertisers looking for assurances that they will indeed be able to access that category or specific publisher in order to manage yield optimization accordingly.

The main takeaway of guaranteed deals is that it is very much dependent on the level of budget that an advertiser is prepared to spend up front. This kind of commitment requires not only significant resources but contacts that have been fostered over the course of many years. This is something that should not be overlooked. Many connections within the online advertising industry change positions and companies from agencies, to publishers, to DSPs. The level of experience and skills required to strike up a guaranteed deal can only be done by someone that has experience working within those three sectors


The increasing popularity of PMPs comes at no real surprise. Both advertisers and publishers are demanding more transparency in their ad buying and selling. By shortening the supply chain PMPs allow advertisers to access brand specific, brand safe inventory at a lower overall cost. In this updated world of automation, it’s important to remember to stay close to your data and truly know the audience that you are trying to access.

At todo Mobile, we pride ourselves in providing team members that have experience working within agencies, publishers to DSP’s in order to provide the best value to our clients. Our team of ad optimization specialists are veterans in the various options of programmatic advertising. We can consult with you on a no obligation basis on providing a general blueprint of your advertising and or publishing business. Feel free to get in touch and we can schedule an initial meeting to discuss further.

9 de febrero de 2021

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