Commentary

AOL ONE CTO On The Advantages Of Private Marketplace Deals

It has been a few days since AOL’s carnivalesque NewFront, where RT Blog did not get a chance to check in with Seth Demsey, who is chief technology officer for AOL Platforms and is in charge of the ONE by AOL platform and a bunch of other things.

Demsey took the opportunity to speak with RTBlog about the rise of private programmatic and private marketplace (PMP) deals. He says it’s entirely possible to manage pricing and channel conflict with private deals.

“PMPs are growing faster in video where there’s a constraint in inventory. Now, more people are using private deals with audience overlays to get a bespoke overlay at a pre-negotiated price,” Demsey said. There is a certain amount of flexibility in how these deals are packaged.

For example, you may have a publisher in a general RTB auction and they choose to make their URL blind and not show their domain. Or you can have complete URL transparency. “If you have a publisher that doesn’t let their URLs go public, you can create a private marketplace, say in a sports section, and then overlay it with auto intenders. You can package that into a private marketplace,” Demsey explained. It’s a bespoke tactic.

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AOL is trying to strike a balance where publishers have control over their inventory to package it in the way they want to, add value through data overlays and pricing optimization, said Demsey. “Publishers need to be in control of their inventory. And on the buy and sell side, we have more tools to create more complex products to more accurately represent what they want,” he added.

Demsey said AOL has been working with brand marketers for a few months testing data programs employing Verizon data. “We’re seeing good results,” but declined to elaborate beyond that or identify the advertisers in the tests. “No one has tried to activate this data. We’re looking at live data — things like brand lift — insights that can be used for planning and attribution, return on ad spend, cost per acquisition and other metric. We’ve take a number of different objectives and are working on trying to apply this data and increase.” Demsey things the data tests will help brand marketers with planning and attribution.

“We see that clients are interested in scale, efficiency, the analytics and understanding. If you can help someone understand why things work and why they don’t, that’s valuable,” he said. The data tests AOL is conducting can offer a strategic view of how advertisers should allocate their budget, the types of promos they run and the direction of their media planning.

“The data will inform more strategic planning and more multivariate testing on creative sequencing. We’re trying to bring to people down the funnel and tell stories for brands. If I have a more unified view of a customer across browsing behaviors, it will enable me to tell stories better through better sequencing, and I can get different types of brand recall. This is where the industry needs to be moving,” Demsey said.

“How do we tell stories that drive performance at scale” is the question. For Demsey, ONE by AOL plus Verizon data is the response. “We have unique access to behavior at a deterministic and scaled manner.”

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