Neal Mohan Discusses The Recent Changes To The DoubleClick Ad Exchange

Google announced last week that it was making a number of changes to its DoubleClick Ad Exchange, as it continues to add the functionality of Admeld’s SSP solution to its core publisher product suite. Scot Spencer, Director of Product Management, Google, described it as an evolution of the Ad Exchange on the DoubleClick Publisher blog, but what does that mean? Is this conversion on the sell side? Do you really need a SSP and an Ad Exchange when they can both carry out the same yield management/optimisation task? How does this benefit the publisher? Here we discuss these subjects with Neal Mohan, VP Display Advertising Products at Google.

What new features is this offering publishers? How does it differentiate from other existing solutions that offer the ability to monetise yield across direct and non-direct (RTB)?

We’ve spent the past year bringing together the best elements of Admeld and Google, and the result is an offering that we think is unique–combining the robust, publisher-centric capabilities of an SSP with the massive pool of demand in AdX. In many ways, this represents an evolution of the exchange as a platform for publishers. In the coming weeks we’re rolling out a series of new features in AdX focused on giving publishers deeper transparency into advertisers’ buying and bidding behaviours, making it really easy to control which ads show up on their sites, and helping them increase yield.

Approaching yield management holistically across direct and indirect is so important that we’ve built DoubleClick’s whole publisher platform around it. This manifests itself in two ways. First, we’ve put a lot of work into making sure that AdX and DFP work seamlessly together so that publishers are never leaving money on the table. Second, as programmatic emerges as a channel for premium and direct sales, we’re also launching new ways for publishers to sell higher value inventory in AdX. For example, one new feature enables publishers to import their first-party data directly from DFP to AdX, and then sell inventory enriched with that data to select buyers in a private auction.

You mention this is the convergence of separate parts of the stack from a publisher perspective. Will this trend continue to the point where an ad server and monetisation platform are one and the same thing?

Though the lines between these two solutions will blur as we make them increasingly interoperable, there’s still significant functionality within each of them that’s purpose-built to meet the needs of large, premium publishers. From our perspective, our job is to make sure these solutions work together beautifully so that publishers can get a holistic view of their business and work efficiently across all channels, formats and devices; and we’re investing heavily in that.

Part of the additional transparency and control you’re offering to publishers is more insight into bidding/buying behaviours. Are there specific tactical use cases that are leveraged by this increased insight?

There are a bunch of use cases, but I think the one we see most commonly, and that our publishers are most excited about, is using information about which advertisers are bidding on your inventory to create new sales opportunities. It’s not just a way to develop new leads for direct guaranteed sales, but to start a conversation with these advertisers about what their goals are and how you can use all the tools at your disposal (programmatic and non) help them meet those goals.

You mention that publishers will be enabled to bring first-party datasets into private auctions, are there additional benefits/opps for publishers that do not exist within some of the ‘PMPs’ (private marketplaces) being executed right now?

Yes, this capability is in beta testing right now and we’re excited to bring it to market because we think it’s indicative of where programmatic is headed. For many premium publishers, first-party data is one of their most valuable and under-monetised assets. There are some ways to use it in the auction, but they’re very cumbersome. Our goal with this feature is to help them put this data to work in a safe, but easily scalable way. The ability to import first-party data directly from DFP to AdX, and then use it in private auctions, doesn’t just help raise CPMs for publishers, but it’s compelling for buyers as well.