The Evolution of the Supply Chain: Q&A with Jason Barnes, PubMatic

In association with PubMatic.

“I think we have come a long way since Marc Pritchard’s infamous quote: ‘murky at best, fraudulent at worst’ in 2017. The industry deserves to be recognised for these efforts, however we now face a new set of challenges.”

Ahead of ATS Singapore, Jason Barnes, PubMatic’s chief revenue officer APAC, discusses how the media supply chain has evolved. In this exclusive Q&A, Barnes assesses the biggest challenges facing the supply chain today, how transparency is being balanced with efficiency, and more.

How has the media supply chain evolved in recent years?

There has been an explosion of supply chains, in part due to header bidding and the introduction of new formats and channels (like mobile app and CTV). This has resulted in fragmentation and complexity for media buyers, and made efficient media buying harder to achieve. As a result, we’re frequently told by our agency partners that they want more control and more transparency of their media supply chains, and this has led to the advent and rise of supply path optimisation (SPO).

Part of PubMatic’s focus involves innovating on behalf of our buy side partners to deliver better ROI on their programmatic investments. In doing so, we enable them to give programmatic a bigger share of the media budget pie which, in turn, is good for our publishers.

Connect and Activate, two recent product launches of ours, are great examples of the way we’re innovating to remove complexity from the supply chain to deliver better efficiency. Understanding that the fast-changing privacy landscape, coupled with the sunsetting of identifiers like third-party cookies and mobile IDs, was going to have a significant impact on advertisers' ability to find and engage their target audiences, we launched Connect last year.

Connect is a platform that allows advertisers to apply targeting on the sell side, closer to their intended audience, for better performance and in a privacy compliant way. Our solution gives advertisers access to best in class contextual, first-party, and audience data. It also allows data owners, such as publishers with first party data, to safely monetise this data,  increasing the value of their inventory for publishers.

Activate, meanwhile, is an end-to-end solution for video and CTV buying that allows advertisers to execute direct deals across PubMatic’s premium video inventory with fewer hops. This means stronger campaign performance, lower fees and less environmental impact. With a single layer of technology, Activate minimises inefficiencies in the programmatic supply chain – including the operational inefficiencies of direct-deal setups – and drives more value for agencies and publishers overall.

Are the right measures in place to balance transparency and efficiency across the supply chain?

Jason Barnes, chief revenue officer APAC, PubMatic

It’s a work in progress; the programmatic supply chain needs to evolve to accommodate economic pressures, privacy regulations, and the push for greater buyer control of media budgets.

We believe the launch of Activate takes a big step in the right direction by limiting inefficiencies in the programmatic supply chain. The IAB TechLab is also doing some great work and we vigorously enforce the measures they have introduced like app-ads.txt, ads.cert, Open Measurement and others which have all had a positive impact on the industry.

We believe that the supply chain of the future must provide for the independence, interoperability, control, choice, and the transparency that both agencies and publishers require. If the programmatic supply chain were created today — specifically for direct deal and private deal opportunities — it would look vastly different. It would be much more efficient if buyers could transact programmatically closer to the inventory source, and this is where Activate combines the automation of programmatic with the control of direct.

What are the biggest issues currently facing the media supply chain? And what is being done to resolve them?

Increasing global scrutiny on consumer privacy and the deprecation of tried and tested methods of addressable advertising continue to be significant challenges. Privacy issues are made more complex by the slew of regulations being released in different countries, which makes it very difficult for global companies to comply effectively. PubMatic’s Connect solves many of the addressability issues as it offers advertisers a means to apply data on the sell side, closer to their desired audience for better performance, in a privacy compliant manner.

In addition, we will see continued calls for the industry to respond to the environmental impact of digital advertising. There are a number of excellent initiatives out there such as GroupM’s responsible investment framework, which we support, and key players across the industry are partnering to focus on reducing carbon emissions such as AdNet Zero, which we are part of. Under the umbrella of ‘responsible media’ we include diversity and inclusion; we need to ensure there is a voice for underrepresented minorities and we are working with NewsGuard and Internews to mitigate the spread of disinformation.

What are marketers looking for from their tech and media partners?

I think it comes down to four key areas:

  • Responsibility – we need to help Marketers invest their media dollars in a responsible way, environmentally and socially, while adhering to global regulations.
  • Control – marketers want control over their supply chains, so they know where and how investments are being spent, which in turn leads to....
  • Performance and ROI – ultimately, programmatic is about harnessing the benefits of automation and real-time optimisation to deliver better ROI and make media budgets go further.
  • Innovation – in a constantly changing landscape, marketers need to be able to lean on their tech partners to be innovating on their behalf.

How do you expect the supply chain to evolve in the next 1-5 years?

The supply chain will continue to evolve, driven by buy side demand for greater transparency and less complexity, continued privacy scrutiny, the deprecation of the OG building blocks of addressable advertising, and continued fragmentation of viewership. But what this really means for our industry is opportunity!

It is our belief that, in the not-too-distant future, all advertising will become digital, and all digital will become programmatic. The entrance into the programmatic market of streaming behemoths would seem to confirm this, as they have identified this opportunity as being critical to their continued growth. I think these platforms won’t be the last to enter the market and as more established players do enter, the opportunity for our whole ecosystem grows: as they say, a rising tide carries all boats.

But, as an industry, we need to be mindful about how we harness this opportunity. We don’t want to repeat the mistakes of programmatic’s past, and so we need to be laser focused on solving addressability in a privacy compliant manner, and simplifying the supply chain and programmatic buying for marketers.

To hear more from PubMatic, and a wealth of other experts in ad tech, get your ATS Singapore 2023 tickets today.