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Why Sell-Side Targeting Solutions Matters Now More Than Ever

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By Susan Wu, Senior Director, Marketing Research
February 1, 2023

The global economic situation is poised to become more challenging. And, new privacy laws in several US states will impact how advertisers find and engage with consumers online. Amid this uncertainty, it is imperative that advertising technology companies continue to push the envelope and deliver innovative, high-performing targeting solutions that help buyers navigate a fast-evolving landscape. Even prior to full third-party cookie deprecation, PubMatic is working with a growing number of top advertisers on how to use sell-side data activation to build channel-agnostic and efficient strategies to survive and thrive no matter what comes next.

Sell-side targeting has emerged as a privacy-safe tactic—and it will continue to help brands stay ahead of operational- and performance-related changes. There’s a lot at stake, and PubMatic’s sell-side targeting solutions bring advertisers closer to publisher content, and closer to the consumer.

Demand-side platforms (DSPs) can help brands and agencies use data to target audiences by automating the purchase of digital ads.

Advertisers buy impressions across multiple publishers at the same time, targeting users with data like geo/location and browsing history. DSPs then automatically decide which media placements to buy for that advertiser.

Now, however, with support for third-party cookies ending amid broader consumer privacy changes, a new tactic has emerged: Sell-side targeting. Here, an advertiser instead shares campaign details with a sell-side platform (SSP) like PubMatic’s.

By applying data on the sell-side, advertisers gain more control over where their ads appear and who sees them. They also increase campaign performance visibility and the number of optimization levers available to better apply optimizations. After all, DSPs have no control over the inventory while the sell-side vendor can optimize supply on a more granular level.

Auction Packages

When advertisers work directly with publishers or retailers on the sell-side, they can also curate auction packages that are tailored specifically to their needs. That’s as opposed to purchasing inventory on the buy-side, which can sometimes inadvertently block even high-quality publishers.

By instead applying audience targeting on the sell-side, advertisers can find the inventory they want with greater precision and effectiveness. In turn, more qualified impressions are sent to auction, which means the brand reaches a wider overall audience of consumers.

PubMatic, for example, worked with agency giant Dentsu on a CTV campaign that sought to reach consumers who wanted to buy a high-value tech product during the holiday shopping season. We were able to find that audience—at well over the viewability benchmark Dentsu was looking for—with sell-side targeting.

In another example, digital agency Goodway Group partnered with PubMatic to develop and activate an auction package to gain transparency, along with better visibility into ad units, placement, and pricing, in programmatic video campaigns. That was after Goodway had run into blockers regarding settings that weren’t always accurately declared within DSPs.

By working with PubMatic on the sell-side, however, Goodway achieved a 180% increase in win rates and a 24% increase in viewability.

First-Party Data

Sell-side targeting also gives advertisers more opportunities to use data to activate against a variety of signals. That’s key as advertisers will no longer have the same access to data from third-party cookies and should work closer with sellers, who will have the greatest knowledge of a given audience and how to target it.

For more on why sell-side targeting is having more than a moment and how advertisers can finally align their inventory and audience strategies, see our new guide.