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Why quality inventory matters more than exclusivity

Why quality inventory matters more than exclusivity Ted Dhanik

Exclusive inventory is a hot request among media buyers these days, but this fad may be a shortsighted strategy. While the concept of exclusive inventory may sound appealing, agencies or DSPs that put a premium on exclusive placements may be missing out on the best inventory available to reach their audiences. Many industry players mistake exclusivity for quality, but the reality is that being singular doesn't always indicate value. Conversely, inventory that is not exclusive isn't necessarily lower quality. It is time we stop asking about what is exclusive and focus on the class and quality of inventory. In the end, advertisers want to deliver highly relevant and targeted ads to the right audience through quality ad units -- regardless of whether that inventory was exclusive to their media partner.

Exclusivity of premium inventory is often a myth. The reality is that no SSP or platform has 100 percent of a publisher's inventory because publishers won't sell premium inventory on an exclusive basis. It's not in their best interest. Instead, exclusive inventory will be remnant and premium inventory will be sold in chunks. Publishers are willing to give SSPs access to inventory on an exclusive yet commoditized basis. This exclusive and remnant deal is only available to buyers via a third-party that does not have unique access to the publisher's inventory. While publishers and advertisers can negotiate exclusive access to a predetermined block of remnant inventory, many publishers will test out different auctioning platforms at will.

In the current ecosystem, it is just as valuable to an advertiser for their agency to buy placements from multiple sources as it is to get impressions from one place. In an ideal world, pricing is consistent for a placement no matter where one buys it, but the reality is that reaching your entire audience is the most valuable thing, even if you pay a little extra to do so. This is especially true in video, due to its limited scale. If a buyer can get impressions from leading publishers, they will buy this premium inventory. While the industry is moving away from fragmentation, we just aren't there yet.

The rise of header bidding also supports the fact that exclusive inventory is essentially a dying idea. Publishers are adopting this practice because it allows them to offer up impressions to multiple buyers in real time. Higher demand on this inventory allows publishers to draw larger CPMs, so it no longer makes sense for them to agree to enter into exclusive deals. Why would they lock themselves out when more buyers dictates higher CPMs?

In the end, the advertiser just wants good placement. It doesn't matter if they have an exclusive deal so long as their ads run on a good site in front of their target audience. How premium the placement is and the directness of the inventory ensures the quality. It doesn't matter if an agency is buying a placement from two platforms or one as long as it is well-priced and direct. Faced with this landscape, media buyers should forget about exclusivity and invest in high-value direct and premium inventory in order to get the best impression and avoid low-quality units.

Advertisers can eliminate publisher roadblocks and access the best inventory available if they buy premium inventory. Exclusivity is often somewhat manufactured, so instead the question media buyers should be asking themselves is: what is the quality and class of the inventory?

A co-founder of engage:BDR, Inc. Ted serves as Chief Executive Officer overseeing strategic marketing, sales and business development, client relationship management, and content acquisition.

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