GroupM Unveils Marketplace Built On Supply-Side Tech: Adds CTV, 'Disruptive New Pricing Models'

GroupM this morning announced the launch of a new “premium marketplace” enabling programmatic buys for CTV (connected TV) inventory, and as part of it is introducing “disruptive new pricing models” enabling its clients to have the option of paying based on commission, SaaS (software as a service), or “all inclusive” models, which is something the WPP unit may eventually extend to other forms of media-buying in the future.

“Our intention long-term is to facilitate programmatic buying on a SaaS basis, where a monthly charge is all inclusive and covers technology, data and agency activation,” Global Head of Investment Andrew Meaden tells MediaPost, adding, “We believe this is the future of media buying vs. layering of multiple charges without any economy of scale. Clients should be able to pay for media buying like software services and benefit from pushing their spends at scale into programmatic.”

GroupM says the new pricing structure is intended to create explicit transparency for advertisers so they can account for the absolute cost of buying media programmatically, from end-to-end, including the amount that ends up as “working media” dollars.

Asked how GroupM can assure that, and whether it would utilize any emerging technologies, such as blockchain distributed ledges or smart contracts, Meaden said that is the accountability role would be managed explicitly via GroupM’s marketplace management.

“With the marketplace operating on supply-side technology, GroupM is closing the gap with a full end-to-end visibility from demand-side to supply-side to publishers,” he explains, adding, “This allows us to provide full transparency to our clients, being auditable and ensuring the same level of transparency in programmatic that our clients used to have with traditional [insertion order] buys. This doesn’t require blockchain or smart contracts, just GroupM Premium Marketplace.”

The marketplace, which initially is operational in the North America and the EMAU, is being built on technology developed by leading SSPs, or “supply-side platforms” that normally engineer solutions for sellers of media inventory, not necessarily buyers.

GroupM said its initial partners include two leading SSPs -- PubMatic and Magnite -- which Meaden characterized as “foundation partners,” adding that other platforms might be added to the marketplace over time, based on specific client and local market needs.

While private programmatic marketplaces are common at big agency holding companies, GroupM said the new Premium Marketplace is the first to incorporate CTV and premium video inventory alongside display advertising buys.

“We see the biggest area/opportunity of future growth being CTV as linear television moves to streaming,” he noted, adding, “CTV supply is still very limited on a programmatic basis and by making a safe and transparent marketplace for our clients to connect to premium publishers we intend to address this.”

He emphasized that the marketplace is launching with multiple publishers, as opposed to a “single [private marketplace] type connection,” which can create problems such as the inability to cap the frequency of ad impressions targeted at specific audiences.

“Using supply-side technology for the Premium Marketplace also helps us to create value for our clients in addition to driving a level of transparency that doesn’t exist with PMPs,” he said, “With that, we are addressing the challenges raised by the 2020 ISBA/PWC study and provide the needed end-to-end transparency, also for audit purposes.”

Asked to describe how GroupM defines “premium” in the context of the new programmatic marketplace, Meaden says, “We mean inventory that is bought directly from publishers where we can verify the source, the quality and the brand safety for our clients.

“A lot of inventory currently available and bought by clients has been resold several times leading to all of the issues around quality, misrepresentation and even fraud.

“This has led to many publishers withholding their best inventory from programmatic marketplaces. We believe it should be possible to buy exactly the same quality programmatically as you can manually with all of the additional benefits programmatic brings.”

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