What Led Us To Need SPO?

2
at
2
minutes
Technical Level
November 6, 2019
Curt Larson
Chief Product Officer
SPO, or supply path optimization, has been getting a lot of attention lately, but there isn’t wide agreement about why it’s worthwhile, what it means, and how to get started on doing it.  I’d like to try to clarify some of those topics and give buyers some clear next steps.

In my discussions with buyers, I’ve seen three main reasons why buyers are interested in SPO.  

First, performance - marketers are interested in finding the best-performing places to buy their ads - and by performance here it’s important to clarify they want cost-per outcome performance.  

Second, fraud - while tied to performance, marketers have independent goals to make sure they are buying from low-fraud sources.  

Third, creative rendering - buyers want to know how their ads will render.  Native ads render quite differently depending on which supply path you choose, but this isn’t limited to native - both video and banners can render differently as well.  For example banners can be rendered in sticky units, multi-unit carousels, and in other contexts buyers may not even be aware of.

Of course, buyers have always been interested in these things.  In the past, most buyers relied on their DSP’s optimization tools to achieve these objectives.  Buyers have now begun to realize that their DSP may not always be the only tool they need to meet those objectives and so have begun to take the reins more directly.  One specific example where buyers must go beyond the DSP tools is that most DSPs don’t expose a lot of data or optimize by exchange, yet the exchange/SSP drives the ad rendering, which controls the consumer experience and ultimately the performance, so buyers have realized they need to pay more attention to this previously missed opportunity.

To learn about the best practices for getting started with SPO, read on to our next article.

SPO, or supply path optimization, has been getting a lot of attention lately, but there isn’t wide agreement about why it’s worthwhile, what it means, and how to get started on doing it.  I’d like to try to clarify some of those topics and give buyers some clear next steps.

In my discussions with buyers, I’ve seen three main reasons why buyers are interested in SPO.  

First, performance - marketers are interested in finding the best-performing places to buy their ads - and by performance here it’s important to clarify they want cost-per outcome performance.  

Second, fraud - while tied to performance, marketers have independent goals to make sure they are buying from low-fraud sources.  

Third, creative rendering - buyers want to know how their ads will render.  Native ads render quite differently depending on which supply path you choose, but this isn’t limited to native - both video and banners can render differently as well.  For example banners can be rendered in sticky units, multi-unit carousels, and in other contexts buyers may not even be aware of.

Of course, buyers have always been interested in these things.  In the past, most buyers relied on their DSP’s optimization tools to achieve these objectives.  Buyers have now begun to realize that their DSP may not always be the only tool they need to meet those objectives and so have begun to take the reins more directly.  One specific example where buyers must go beyond the DSP tools is that most DSPs don’t expose a lot of data or optimize by exchange, yet the exchange/SSP drives the ad rendering, which controls the consumer experience and ultimately the performance, so buyers have realized they need to pay more attention to this previously missed opportunity.

To learn about the best practices for getting started with SPO, read on to our next article.

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About Behind Headlines: 180 Seconds in Ad Tech—

Behind Headlines: 180 Seconds in Ad Tech is a short 3-minute podcast exploring the news in the digital advertising industry. Ad tech is a fast-growing industry with many updates happening daily. As it can be hard for most to keep up with the latest news, the Sharethrough team wanted to create an audio series compiling notable mentions each week.

SPO, or supply path optimization, has been getting a lot of attention lately, but there isn’t wide agreement about why it’s worthwhile, what it means, and how to get started on doing it.  I’d like to try to clarify some of those topics and give buyers some clear next steps.

In my discussions with buyers, I’ve seen three main reasons why buyers are interested in SPO.  

First, performance - marketers are interested in finding the best-performing places to buy their ads - and by performance here it’s important to clarify they want cost-per outcome performance.  

Second, fraud - while tied to performance, marketers have independent goals to make sure they are buying from low-fraud sources.  

Third, creative rendering - buyers want to know how their ads will render.  Native ads render quite differently depending on which supply path you choose, but this isn’t limited to native - both video and banners can render differently as well.  For example banners can be rendered in sticky units, multi-unit carousels, and in other contexts buyers may not even be aware of.

Of course, buyers have always been interested in these things.  In the past, most buyers relied on their DSP’s optimization tools to achieve these objectives.  Buyers have now begun to realize that their DSP may not always be the only tool they need to meet those objectives and so have begun to take the reins more directly.  One specific example where buyers must go beyond the DSP tools is that most DSPs don’t expose a lot of data or optimize by exchange, yet the exchange/SSP drives the ad rendering, which controls the consumer experience and ultimately the performance, so buyers have realized they need to pay more attention to this previously missed opportunity.

To learn about the best practices for getting started with SPO, read on to our next article.

About Calibrate—

Founded in 2015, Calibrate is a yearly conference for new engineering managers hosted by seasoned engineering managers. The experience level of the speakers ranges from newcomers all the way through senior engineering leaders with over twenty years of experience in the field. Each speaker is greatly concerned about the craft of engineering management. Organized and hosted by Sharethrough, it was conducted yearly in September, from 2015-2019 in San Francisco, California.

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Curt Larson
Chief Product Officer

About the Author

Curt Larson has over 20 years of career experience in technology and product management, including 8 years at Sharethrough, where he led the creation of the first native exchange and guided Sharethrough to a programmatic business model. He has co-authored numerous programmatic specs with the IAB and is active in the industry. He has experience leading product, UX, analytics, business development, operations, marketing, and publisher sales.

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