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Sports publisher Minute Media has built its own SSP.

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If imitation is the best form of flattery, publisher Minute Media’s latest venture is a tribute to ad tech. Just to be clear, it built its own. This sports his publisher is now the proud owner of Proprietary Supply His Side his platform, also known as the marketplace that advertisers utilize to buy ads on their sites.

This ad tech is usually owned by a third party. Few publishers have the technical knowledge or commercial stamina to launch and maintain their own service. However, there are exceptions where we believe these costs are worth it. For these publishers, the short-term pain of bringing an SSP to market is worth the long-term benefits it brings. After hearing more about the plans, it’s safe to say that Minute Media is drinking from the same well.

Let’s start with the basics. Minute Media’s SSP is a programmatic marketplace for unique impressions (that is, ads across properties).: The Players’ Tribune, 90min or DBLTAP) and other publishers. On the latter point, Minute Media wants these publishers to see this as an upscale version of a typical SSP. The more you do this, the more you can establish yourself as a marketplace for premium inventory. Minute Media is looking to create a premium his publisher network via SSP.

“The SSP was created because these publishers [that] Tom Webster, EVP of Global Publisher Platforms at Minute Media, said:

There are some things to unpack here. First, there is Prebid. In other words, an open-source alternative that a publisher can use to sell impressions in a way that doesn’t require him to serve impressions to one of his publishers at a time, also known as the “waterfall method.” That’s why Webster said video inventory is sold “by tag.” Bids are inefficient because they are daisy-chained in sequence rather than simultaneously in real time.

Messed up? In a daisy chain, impressions are sold each time the publisher’s set price is reached, regardless of whether there were higher bids later in the chain. Prebid gets around this problem by allowing multiple advertisers to bid on the same ad inventory at nearly the same time. In this way, publishers are able to sell their inventory fairly to the highest bidder.

Prebid is an important Segway as it is the backbone of how Minute Media’s SSP works. How to assure publishers that no party takes precedence — a statement that can be audited in an open codebase if necessary. To be fair, Prebid itself isn’t a big differentiator. Not even if most SSPs use it. The real differentiator is the type of ad spend available to publishers. Webster explains:

In other words, most SSPs serve impressions to two types of advertisers. That is, advertisers who broker private deals to buy impressions from publishers, and advertisers who want to buy impressions in private her auctions, where multiple buyers can participate. Minute Media’s SSP provides publishers with access to ad dollars secured through sales teams in the UK, Singapore and LATAM as well as nationwide sales teams in New York, Chicago, Detroit and Los Angeles. These dollars are considered more valuable to publishers because the sales team was able to negotiate better rates and bigger commitments.

“You can trade against things like certain performance guarantees,” said Webster. “Premium His Supply is something that is gaining traction as third-party addressability is curtailed. If we can offer it at scale, that is what we can do.”

Despite the optimism, Webster is well aware of the long road SSP has had in just five months. In fact, it has just emerged from a stealth mode that only a handful of companies can afford.

Currently, there are 65 publishers selling impressions through SSPs, but so far only “5 to 10 or so” publishers are directly connected. He hopes to “aggressively” increase that number by the end of the year, but did not disclose an exact number.

Easier said than done given that publishers want to partner with fewer, not more, ad tech vendors. One way to get publishers to buy into this plan is to make it accessible to more advertisers. Webster wants to help advertisers secure more support from the ad tech (demand-side platforms) they use for programmatic bidding. For now, many of these companies have integrated with his SSP via ad tech platform Bidswitch. Data, tools, or rates are available without incurring large costs.

This is a program equivalent to the chicken-and-egg scenario.

But there’s a reason to cheer up. It’s hard to be a publisher in the best of times, let alone in economic downturns, so there are worse places right now than sports. With the start of the NFL season, not to mention the World Cup soccer tournament in November, there are a lot of advertising dollars to contend with. Especially when it comes to businesses like Minute Media, which are shaping ventures like SSPs to be successful. In fact, technology is becoming a bigger factor in Minute Media’s overall business. For example, more than half of 2020 revenue will come from licensing technology. In other words, this is a proven business model for business.

That said, we have no plans to go down the licensing route with SSP. At least not yet.

“For now, we will focus on this project,” says Webster. “Maybe it will happen somewhere else, but it will take a distinct difference for other publishers to do it.”

The reality of running an SSP is that it isn’t worth the squeeze for many publishers. Take Vox Media for example. SSP really makes sense for that business as it’s a unique ad format and a way to sell inventory from a local network of US-based publishers. Most publishers don’t share the same priorities.

“So joining a local (i.e. representing the top publishers in a given country) dedicated alliance such as Ozone, TRUSTX, etc. may not be the right strategic choice for Tier 1 publishers, as it is much better, I believe. They directly control access to technology and the environment and act accordingly,” said Alessandro De Zanche, founder of media consultancy ADZ Strategies.