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Are Direct Buys Better Than Programmatic Open Exchanges?

Advertisers have been striking advertising deals directly with publishers for as long as advertising has existed. For a long time, direct buys were done (and sometimes still are) by sending creative and a click through URL directly to the publisher. The problem with that was the advertiser had to rely solely on the publisher's reporting to know if the publisher actually ran all of the impressions they agreed to run.


Ad servers like Atlas and Google Campaign Manager, originally known as Double Click, were created to give advertisers a real-time view of the performance of their campaign, to centralize reporting and to streamline creative trafficking. Once DSPs came on the scene, advertisers began relying more on the DSP's reporting than the ad server. Over time, all of display advertising has been centralized more into the DSP so that both programmatic and the traditional flat rate, contextual direct buys could be viewed in the same report without the need to do 2X the ad trafficking.


As the industry moves further away from cookies, the conversion reporting becomes less reliable. By some estimates, we're only seeing around 30% of the conversion tracking than we did 10 years ago. Contextual targeting and premium publisher placement is becoming more important again as audience, meaning user, targeting becomes more and more elusive.


10 years ago, the prevailing opinion was that an advertiser shouldn't care WHERE the ad is placed but only WHO sees it. Now targeting by the WHO is only possible around 30% of the time, so the importance of the WHERE is on the rise again! Direct Buys that have been negotiated directly with a publisher and are guaranteed premium placements near relevant content are making a come back compared to the open exchange. As they say, if you're around long enough, what was old becomes new again.

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Hi,
I'm AdTech Emily!

I've been in digital advertising for over 20 years and have worked in almost every AdTech platform!

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