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How to Implement Supply Path Optimization: Harnessing the Buyer Benefits of SPO

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By Jordan Linville, Regional VP, Agencies, Advertiser Solutions
July 30, 2019

Supply Path Optimization, or SPO, is a tool for advertisers, agencies and DSPs to improve buying efficiency. Instead of accessing vast – often duplicative – supply from many SSPs, SPO allows buyers to select fewer, higher-quality partners that are more suited to fit their needs.

Why SPO?

Programmatic advertising spend accounts for over two-thirds of the projected $358 billion digital advertising budget for 2020. It’s a complex ecosystem in a fast-paced industry where efficiency often leads to improved ROI.

Effective implementation of SPO isn’t a simple “set it and forget it” feat. It is an ongoing process that requires monitoring and re-assessment over time, but in the vast majority of implementations that we’ve seen, the ROI has been worth the effort. Here is an overview of how to effectively optimize your supply path in four steps.

Internal Assessment

First, take stock of your current situation. How many SSPs are you buying through? Where are the majority of your impressions coming from? Are you buying specific inventory through specific SSPs? If so, why? Understanding the current state is the first step towards effectively implementing your SPO.

In addition, these questions can help lead you towards a few easy conclusions early on. Perhaps you can identify several SSPs that are not as cost-effective as you had previously believed or that bring no unique value. In any scenario, you should be left with a smaller pool of relevant SSPs than when you began. This pool is what we’ll be evaluating in the next steps.

SSP Evaluation

Now that you’ve assessed internally, it’s time to turn the lens on the SSPs you’re working with. Evaluating your SSP partners is an important step – it allows you to understand the differences between your supply partners, measure their willingness to share data, and quantify any special or unique values that set them apart. Evaluating your whole pool of SSPs can seem like a daunting task.  PubMatic has made a free sample Request for Information (RFI) scorecard available for download. This rubric can help you efficiently and easily score your SSPs according to your needs.

SSP Consolidation

By now, you’ve figured out what you want and which SSPs have the potential to be long-term partners. The consolidation method of SSPs depends on the DSP you’re using. Most DSPs offer some customization, such as turning an SSP on or off, or weighting in favor of certain SSPs. Keep in mind that it is best to have comprehensive testing methodologies in place to avoid unintended consequences when consolidating.

Ongoing Optimization

As stated at the start, this isn’t a “set it and forget it” scenario. Your ideal optimization may change and shift as time goes on. Pay attention to ensure that progress is being made while performance metrics are being met. Existing optimization can be refined. While building and maintaining relationships with your chosen SSPs is likely first priority, don’t forget to monitor your SPO in the long-run.

What’s Next?

SPO will positively impact advertiser ROI and set marketers up for long-term success. There are a few key best practices to consider as you embark on the process and implement. To learn more about the value of SPO and how you can take full advantage, download the full white paper or contact us to learn more.