Chocolate Industry

Publishers want to test seller-defined audiences, but buyers aren’t interested while third-party cookies are still in play

What is the ETA on publishers testing SDA?

IAB Tech Lab’s Vendor Defined Audience (SDA) Specification is Featured as a Key Contextual Targeting Alternative for the Third-Party Post-Cookie Digital Advertising Ecosystem – an Ecosystem Based on Life-Friendly Addressability privacy and monetization of first-party publisher data.

But it’s still early days for SDA, which was made available for testing via OpenRTB in May last year ahead of its February release.

Some publishers are excited to test SDA campaigns as we approach Google’s 2023 deadline for phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome.

However, there are growing concerns about the marked lack of interest from advertisers to do the same.

“Almost no demand”

Very few advertisers currently purchase Vendor Defined Audiences, and at this time most DSPs are not actively integrating the specification.

“SSPs take the data, but almost no DSPs do,” said Paul Bannister, Chief Strategy Officer of CafeMedia. “There’s almost no demand at all.”

The main reason media buyers aren’t currently transacting on seller-defined audiences is that they can still rely on cookie-based targeting, so there’s no compelling force pushing them to adopt an alternative to cookies, said Benjamin Dick, head of the IAB Tech Lab. product manager.

Most advertisers ignore seller-defined audiences, can’t access those audiences, or are indifferent to the different targeting methods available to them, said Scott Messer, senior vice president of media at Leaf Group.

“SDA could appear in three places, each requiring a different set of integrations and workflows: an open auction, an SSP curation agreement, or as a DSP feature,” Messer said. “Although it is relatively simple for a publisher to enrich the auction feed with SDA for an open auction, are DSPs even looking for this signal? Can a buyer in a DSP select SDA as a targeting parameter at the instead of Grapeshot or an internal context tool?”

Good questions.

Publishers should have access to a user interface and tools that help them understand how their data is enriched, and DSPs should be able to select SDA as a targeting parameter, Messer said.

But SSPs, especially those with DMP integrations, are able to ingest publishers’ SDA data and package it for purchase on their platforms.

“One of the cool things about buying Magnite Carbon or TripleLift buying 1plusX is they can then take that technology and do [SDA] an offer inside their SSP so a publisher doesn’t have to,” said Jana Meron, senior vice president of programmatic strategy and data at Insider.

Long-tail publishers that lack sophisticated in-house ad tech stacks could benefit from SSP curations, Meron said.

But while SSPs have a role to play in managing inventory on behalf of a seller, publishers should push for greater SDA integration between DSPs, Messer said.

“SDA could be a big boost for SSP sales teams who want to use a more robust taxonomy to organize publisher inventory,” Messer said. “Editors would appreciate a boost for SSP curation, but they should really look into how to get DSP integrations more broadly.”

Cookies and chocolate cake

The IAB Tech Lab is aware that publishers are concerned about the lack of buy-side demand for seller-defined audiences, Dick said.

In response, the trade group is working to educate the digital advertising ecosystem about the SDA and refine specifications based on industry feedback. The IAB Tech Lab’s position is that buyers just need more time.

“We’re not claiming it’s going to be a quick process,” Dick said. “[SDA] is a broad and flexible framework that requires integration in different ways, depending on who you are in the supply chain – so the time horizon is much longer than [what would be expected for] a business integration that owns a privacy sandbox or cleanroom, because [SDA] is not plug and play.

But the ad industry still takes some time to adapt to new targeting specifications and solutions, said David Rowley, senior director of data and identity products and platforms at News Corp.

“We have to be pragmatic about how quickly the industry can move, given all the priorities we’re working on, even if there are looming deadlines that we’re all aware of,” Rowley said. “It’s not a lack of interest [from the buy side] – even more a lack of concentration. But publishers will have to keep beating the drum.

Greater transparency for the buy side would help ease advertisers’ concerns about lack of knowledge about the data signals used to create individual seller-defined audiences, Messer said.

He invoked the “chocolate cake analogy” to describe how the methodology used to create vendor-defined audiences can vary widely: advertisers want chocolate cake, but each SSP has its own recipe and each publisher has its own own ingredients.

“Until we fix the chocolate cake problem, publishers will at best offer a dizzying array of SDA variants that are too nuanced, complex, or incompatible for buyers to sift through,” Messer said.

Prove the value

The chocolate cake analogy ties directly to a fundamental advertiser fear that, as the industry moves from targeting based on third-party cookies to targeting based on publisher’s proprietary data, sellers will send them unreliable targeting signals, and they will win. t have the transparency they need to accurately determine the value of vendor-defined audiences.

“There is no doubt that buyers will prefer authenticated audiences and the industry will do everything in its power to adapt,” said Rob Beeler, founder of consultancy Beeler.Tech. “But there is work to be done [on SDA]and buyers should help drive it where it needs to be.

And transparency-minded marketers should know that the SDA specification includes a data transparency standard, or data label, that provides metadata about the signals used to build the audiences, Dick said. Buyers can use this information to inform automated bidding decisions.

But determining campaign performance and ROI will always require working with third-party measurement partners, Dick said, because SDA “isn’t making headway in terms of measurement in different contexts and that’s not expected.” .

Meanwhile, publishers worry that advertisers won’t be able to gauge the true value of their seller-defined audiences.

Publishers need to understand at what prices they can sell their audience segments. For example, they want to know how their “self-intentional” segment compares to the “self-intentional” segment offered by their competitors.

For this, however, there is no more effective solution than simply tracking demand-side interest, Dick said.

But the IAB Tech Lab takes the pricing issues of publishers into consideration. He plans to codify a minimum floor price as part of the OpenRTB model that must be met for an SDA impression to be earned, Dick said. The IAB Tech Lab is also considering standardizing the RFP process on the DSP side.