We’ve spoken in the past about the importance of video, header bidding and first price auctions. And how such trends could play a big part in building programmatic success stories in future. 

But what if there were another tactic we haven’t yet discussed, which is just as important – if not more so? One that almost seemed to have been forgotten, only to re-emerge, more significant than ever. Especially if programmatic is truly set to deliver on its promise - to improve ad delivery for the better.

Because all of the techniques discussed above, delivered in real-time, are all still missing a key attribute. A killer feature that has been an integral part of media trading since the very start. 

Though programmatic has been great for introducing data and automation to advertising, it also missed a big opportunity in automating the majority of deals – which happen over time, not just here and now.

Future Guarantee

Where RTB, header bidding etc. are all about the moment – if anything, programmatic guaranteed is about the future. 

And especially if by that we mean providing commitment around impressions or spend over a given period. In fact, it could be a direct replacement for the old RFP and insertion order process. And by extension, automate an even bigger part of the overall ad sales pie. According to eMarketer, in the US, in 2018 already such ‘direct’ methods will make up more spendthan auction-based sales.

Perhaps it’s not so much of a surprise then, that this topic came up on the Buyer Panel at our Automation Summit in May. There we heard in clear terms that programmatic guaranteed is on the up, and many of the agency groups are increasing focus on it as we speak.

If in previous years automated or programmatic guaranteed never really delivered on its promise, that is arguably down to its lack of adoption on the buy side. But by the same token, a growing urgency is now building among the agencies, explaining why guaranteed seems all of a sudden in the ascendancy. 

As Rubicon Project’s Buyer Lead Jon Vick explained at the Summit, many of the agency groups have already committed to hit ambitious programmatic spend levels by 2020, and programmatic guaranteed presents a manageable way of doing so, in a way everyone is already used to. As well as including the ability to add more spend to the channel incrementally over time. 

Especially as we hear of clients, as well as agencies themselves looking for ever greater efficiencies, the possibility of automating the entire insertion order and request for proposals (RFP) process with publishers seems too big an opportunity to be missed.

The Right Connections

But how does it work in practice? Clearly, not every platform has all the right connections yet, but Rubicon may be ahead of most: 

Guaranteed integrations so far on the Rubicon platform.

Guaranteed integrations so far on the Rubicon platform.

For the publisher, much of the ground work is already done. All that’s needed are a few extra steps and you’re good to go. You can easily include your level of guaranteed commitment on a PMP level, and then it’s just a case of promoting that fact to interested buyers. For agencies also, the ability to buy private marketplaces on a guaranteed basis isn’t a big a step as you might think:

DSPs ingest a flag in the bidstream that indicates a level of guaranteed commitment on a deal. These deals are created with the understanding that both buyer and publisher will prioritize the deal, the DSP’s bidder will respond appropriately (i.e., often), and the publisher will supply that guaranteed inventory, all handled smoothly across RTB pipes.

Even if there are some technical steps to overcome – and scheduling around that roadmap is never easy – it certainly hasn’t put many off. And we’re already hearing stories of some Nordic publishers seeing significant increases in guaranteed spend over the past three months.

In conclusion, it’s incredibly exciting to see programmatic branching out into new territories – from outdoor, to audio and podcasting, even augmented reality. But just as the real-time revolution has been incredibly exciting, and brought massive change, it’s becoming more and more clear, that is only part of the picture. 

Real-time bidding mostly focused on direct response and performance campaigns. But the majority of ad spend has always been in branding campaigns – and most of those have always been transacted on a guaranteed basis.

If programmatic wants to deliver on its original promise, the message is clear. To move out of the here and now, and build for the future, we need to embrace programmatic guaranteed.


Guaranteed in Four Simple Steps

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