November 6, 2019

What Led Us to Need SPO?

SPO, or supply path optimization, has been getting a lot of attention lately, but there isn’t wide agreement about why it’s worthwhile, what it means, and how to get started on doing it.  I’d like to try to clarify some of those topics and give buyers some clear next steps.

In my discussions with buyers, I’ve seen three main reasons why buyers are interested in SPO.  

First, performance - marketers are interested in finding the best-performing places to buy their ads - and by performance here it’s important to clarify they want cost-per outcome performance.  

Second, fraud - while tied to performance, marketers have independent goals to make sure they are buying from low-fraud sources.  

Third, creative rendering - buyers want to know how their ads will render.  Native ads render quite differently depending on which supply path you choose, but this isn’t limited to native - both video and banners can render differently as well.  For example banners can be rendered in sticky units, multi-unit carousels, and in other contexts buyers may not even be aware of.

Of course, buyers have always been interested in these things.  In the past, most buyers relied on their DSP’s optimization tools to achieve these objectives.  Buyers have now begun to realize that their DSP may not always be the only tool they need to meet those objectives and so have begun to take the reins more directly.  One specific example where buyers must go beyond the DSP tools is that most DSPs don’t expose a lot of data or optimize by exchange, yet the exchange/SSP drives the ad rendering, which controls the consumer experience and ultimately the performance, so buyers have realized they need to pay more attention to this previously missed opportunity.

To learn about the best practices for getting started with SPO, read on to our next article.