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Curation is the anti-SPO, plus Audigent interview.

Why sell media when you can curate it instead

New! We’ve made some changes to the Marketecture newsletter. Each week we will highlight a Marketecture vendor interview, along with original articles and links curated by our CEO, Ari Paparo.

Vendor interview: Audigent

Back in the day, you either sold ads or sold data. But there’s something new under the sun, and it’s called Curation. Basically its a fancy word for creating deal IDs, but there’s more to it than that.

A couple weeks back we interviewed Andrew Casale about Index Exchange’s new Marketplaces product, which allows third parties to augment the SSP’s stream of auctions with their own data, turning ordinary auctions into valuable, semantically enhanced, deals. One of the launch partners was Audigent, a fast-growing start-up we had the lucky happenstance of interviewing this week.

In this Marketecture Vendor Interview Ari grills CEO Drew Stein about how the company curates — there’s that word again — publisher inventory and data into deals the buy-side craves.

Keep reading to hear my thoughts on curation, below.

Reminder: Vendor Interviews are always free for 1 week, then are subscribers-only. Subscribe for only $39/month.

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Podcast: How does Dotdash Meredith do it?

Jon Roberts, the Chief Innovation Officer of Dotdash Meredith came on the pod and gave us his secrets for media success. Are you ready for them?

Make your site faster and reduce your crappy ads. Really.

We discuss tech earnings, the CMA-sandbox update, and more (see our reading list at the bottom of this email for all the links).

Listen to the pod now:

Curation: The anti-SPO


I don’t think “Curation” is a defined ad term and we don’t yet have a CMP (“curation management platform”) so it must be early. But I’m using the term as follows:

Curation: The action of a third-party, who neither owns media nor transacts media, to organize media in a way that is helpful for buyers.

I believe that Xandr’s “Curate” was the first product to allow curation, so let’s say they coined the term. Since then, IPonWeb launched MediaGrid, and Index launched Marketplaces. There are probably others, let me know.

The idea is to allow one party, typically a data owner, to add their data to publisher-controlled inventory and thereby give a signal to the buyer that the inventory has some additional characteristic.

Some examples:

  • Data company creates a deal that represents high net worth individuals

  • Verification company creates a deal that is expected to have over 90% viewability

  • Creative vendor indicates that certain ad slots support their creative format

  • Optimization vendor tailors deals to each buyer’s past results

There are a bunch of reasons why this is interesting.

First, because it is a much more efficient and modern model for monetizing data than the more traditional options. Historically, data owners would be forced to either a) sell media bundled with their data in an ad net model; or b) sync their data with every available DSP and make it abailable “pre-bid”. In the new model, the data owner still needs to sync but can presumably work with a small number of SSPs to get coverage across most buyers regardless of DSP choice.

Second, by putting the data on the sell-side, the operational challenges for buyer execution is improved. This seems counter-intuitive. But when a DSP user applies multiple pre-bid data overlays on a single line it can often under perform or under deliver, and the investigation and optimization can be quite time consuming. With a curated deal you have visibility into available supply and remove one major variable from the equation.

This ties into the provocative title of this essay. Curation is the anti-SPO. SPO is driven by DSPs looking to reduce cost and waste by removing duplicative inventory. Inherent in this process is the assumption that supply is a commodity that can be optimized. But with curation, the sell-side strikes back! The inventory under the deal is not commoditized, it has very specific value to the buyer, and the DSP filters this at their own risk.

Finally, curation unlocks creativity. Like it or not, Deal IDs are the LCD (lowest common denominator — the original TLA!) for programmatic. They can mean anything or nothing. You can curate anything into a deal, and stop worrying about adapting to DSP integration timelines, workflows, or politics. Consider the rich media creative vendor example I mentioned above. In the old world, if you wanted to make a new format available on a DSP you might have to hack something together. like a weird creative size (2×4 was using in Appnexus!). Now that problem is solved.

Years ago I wrote the seminal article Let a Thousand Ad Networks Bloom, (not as catchy as “Everything is an Ad Network”, LOL), making the argument that there was room for creativity and innovation in packaging inventory. While that piece was prophetic, it was stuck in the old model of bundling media and data. The emergence of dynamic curation breaks the model open and opens up a million possibilities.

Reading list

My podcast co-host really loves show notes, even though literally no one ever reads them. So instead we’re putting links to the key articles from the pod here.

  • Google revenue of $65.5B in Q4, up 11% YOY, but network down 2%

  • Google and the CMA put out dense progress reports on the sandbox and cookie deprecation (PDFs). Google. CMA.

  • Microsoft earnings, with ads revenue up 8% (search and news)

  • The Messenger shuts down

  • Keith Petri’s Lockr launches publisher ID management solution

  • Dish and Sling adopt UID2. Will the real story of UID be in CTV?

  • FlashTalking is running a Super Bowl ad! And it’s funny.


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