UI Fatigue: The Need to Centralize Programmatic Access

Media buyers are more equipped than ever to handle programmatic media.  The self-service user interfaces (UIs) of DSPs empower media professionals to truly bid on the right impressions at the right time.  The problem is the process isn’t streamlined: full access comes from using many platforms.  It makes the programmatic marketplace inefficient.  There are huge ad tech opportunities for centralizing programmatic buys into a single platform.

There are lots of programmatic buying platforms to choose from, each with distinct use cases.

  • Standard: These DSPs are typically used to bid on standard banner impressions.  Each DSP utilizes its own algorithm and matches cookies to their own set. 
  • Format-Specific: There are DSPs for video, mobile, rich media, native, and content.  Format-specific DSPs have unique value propositions for granular controls and data visualization. 
  • Closed Inventory: Amazon, AOL, Facebook, and Yahoo have built their own buying platforms to protect their proprietary inventory and data from commoditization. 
  • Automated Guaranteed and PMPs: Guarantee players and SSPs have positioned themselves as a replacement to more premium inventory that is traditionally negotiated. 



There’s a potential of using over 10 UIs to buy programmatic media.  Are media buyers becoming bogged down with too many tools?  Are they in danger of UI fatigue?  Yes and no. 

Today’s media buyers are more hands-on.  They traffic ads, review site analytics, and buy media programmatically.  They have even taken on viewability and fraud monitoring platforms.  Using multiple UIs isn’t as daunting as it used to be.  But they are also beginning to assess operational trade-offs.  For instance, even though two DSPs may have unique cookie sets and bidding algorithms for banner impressions, will they provide enough uplift to warrant the time to learn and manage both DSPs?  How about format-specific DSPs? 

Publishers and ad vendors are beginning to understand this.  The first questions they are (or should be) asking advertisers is, “What is your programmatic tech stack?”  Plugging into an advertiser’s tech stack will increase their chances of making it on a media plan.  Vendors looking to become a new part of an existing tech stack will need to prove their added value to warrant the labor and expense of learning a new tool.  Programmatic buyers are becoming more critical of what they place in their toolbox in order to remain more nimble.

The ad tech space will also continue to evolve.  Yahoo’s purchase of Brightroll and Rubicon Project’s purchase of iSocket and Shiny Ads are just the beginning of horizontal acquisitions that will create more holistic programmatic buying solutions.  Standard DSPs have built out PMP libraries to reduce the need of working with SSP UIs and are developing better user experiences to support other formats. 

One huge consolidation opportunity in the ad tech space is a universal programmatic management platform.  The best success case is in paid search with campaign management tools like Marin and Kenshoo.  All advertisers with robust search accounts use these platforms to consolidate bidding across Google, Yahoo, Bing, and even Facebook.  A universal programmatic management platform could also be a central UI to monitor and control global frequency capping and unique reach, two metrics that are becoming more important as advertisers add to their programmatic buying tech stack.  Consolidating to a single buying platform would solve the efficiency problems associated with managing too many UIs.

2 comments about "UI Fatigue: The Need to Centralize Programmatic Access".
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  1. James Curran from, March 28, 2015 at 11:53 a.m.

    We all will come to terms that the tech stack will be forever evolving and no one marketer or publisher will be able to use one system.

    The reason is simple - competition. No agency can put their entire client's budget into one DSP and no one publisher can put all their non guaranteed inventory into one SSP. Because you need something to keep your partners vying for your business.

    We see the clients with the largest tech stacks, as having the most dialed in yield and ROI because they drive big competition from their vendors.

    Is this hard for planners and ops teams? Yes, but there are new tools (shameless plug for STAQ) that enable pubs and marketers to scale their partner base, unifying their best of breed tech stack.

    Also, as long as there are new formats and big individual, unique native formats (like Twitter, SnapChat, FB) then there will be more than one piece of the stack.... The tremendous consolidation we're all hoping for simply cannot happen. It's a cycle.

  2. Joshua Rex from AP, March 28, 2015 at 6:22 p.m.

    In the same way that Michael Bloomberg created portfolio management software for financial traders, The Exchange Lab have created the same for programmatic trading. No one DSP performs best all the time. The Exchange Lab enables trading and optimisation across multiple DSPs - from a unified platform/interface.

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