By Ross Benes

Relying on ad tech vendors is a hard habit for publishers to quit.

Because vendors eat into publishers’ revenue and slow down their pages, pubs are eager to purge them to have more control over their own tech stacks. But even if a publisher has a strong internal tech team that is capable of building its own products to replace third parties, a lot of vendors stay embedded in publishers’ stacks because pubs don’t want to pay engineers to monitor and tweak these products, and they want somewhere to turn for a quick fix whenever there is a malfunction.

“Sometimes I need a neck to throttle when something breaks,” said a publisher head of product requesting anonymity, when asked why his company outsources some of its ad tech.

When deciding whether to build ad tech themselves, publishers make decisions based off their core competencies. A rep from a comScore top 100 pub with a strong video focus said it built products to replace video vendor Brightcove and native-ad vendor Sharethrough because native and video are major parts of this pub’s business model, and the investment would pay off in the long run since the publisher only expects video and native to grow. But the publisher declined to build its own ad server for display inventory.


There are also ad tech vendors whose products benefit from economies of scale that wouldn’t be possible if a single pub were to go in alone. Purch has a tech team that built its own server-to-server product that it uses to sell all of its programmatic inventory server-side, which is rare among publishers. But it keeps around bad-ad detectors like Ad Lightning and Media Trust because those vendors offer sophisticated detection since they learn from the billions of impressions they analyze across multiple clients, said Purch CTO John Potter.

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A publishing executive, speaking under the condition of anonymity, recently told a story that has industrywide implications. Despite putting only 20,000 daily video impressions in the open market, this executive said, some advertising partners had purchased over 100,000 daily video impressions that they had believed belong to the publisher.

Mike Hannon, vp of yield and revenue optimization at Purch, said that to prevent these kinds of theoretical blunders, publishers should only work with vendors who accept and respect their agreed upon terms. He added that publishers should make it clear that they specifically prohibit inventory reselling if that is something that concerns them.

“The biggest thing is to have that conversation and make some phone calls to see what is happening,” Hannon said. “Any one of the big SSPs can find out where impressions are coming from. … So be careful of where you are putting out supply.”

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Content marketing company Purch has partnered with Index Exchange for a new server-to-server integration for video header bidding, a tie-up it hopes will it maximize monetization opportunities while still not detracting from consumer experiences.

The integration will allow Purch to simultaneously auction banner and video ads with unlimited demand sources without adding any extra latency on the page, according to the pair.

Purch claims the development will ultimately improve transparency and competition, as many advocates of header bidding argue that adoption of the technology can help them open up to demand from third-party ad exchanges, thus reduce their reliance of the internet’s dominant ad stack (ie Google’s DoubleClick), thus reduce their reliance on ‘waterfalling‘.


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Purch, which first implemented header bidding three years ago, has moved on.The portfolio of product review and tech sites turned off most of its header bidders last month and moved to server-to-server integrations with the same partners.

Industrywide, server-to-server is considered a logical next step after header bidding. Amazon is moving server-to-server, and Google’s exchange bidding product is building server-to-server connections with partners.

“What’s great about header bidding is that it adds more demand sources and competition,” said Purch CTO John Potter. “What’s not good about it is that the entire process takes place on the user’s browser. Moving server-to-server, we get rid of all that back-and-forth on the client side and remove a lot of clutter and latency from the user’s page.”

To create its server-to-server connections, Purch used its own team of engineers to work with its ad tech partners on developing server-to-server connections.

Once Purch switched to server-to-server connections, it saw latency decrease by at least half a second. Revenue held steady, maintaining the gains Purch saw when it switched to header bidding.

While Purch rolled out server-to-server, Potter kept its header bidding partners live, but he soon turned those off.

“As we added more demand sources [server-to-server], we found the header bidders weren’t winning enough inventory to make it worthwhile,” Potter said.

With its custom solution, Purch is including not just banner ad demand sources server-side, but partners bidding on video ads or native placements. It works with 21 partners via server-to-server integrations.

Those partners see Purch’s inventory more reliably, because fewer of their bids time out, Potter said. Ads serve faster, improving viewability and wasted bids.

By building its own solution, Purch can see every scrap of bidding data, including both winning and losing bids, and the spread between them. Potter considers data key to publishers controlling their inventory and understanding its true value.

While Purch’s move to the server side made sense for the company, Potter doesn’t expect many other publishers will take the same path. For one, publishers must have enough scale to entice their ad tech partners to build their end of the connection. And most publishers don’t employ ad tech engineering teams to build these connections.

“Publishers will have to wait for someone to productize it for the most part,” Potter predicted. “I think this is going to be slower than header bidding because it’s harder to implement.”

That said, Potter says Google’s exchange bidding product could see swift adoption and publishers will realize the gains of speed that come with server-to-server connections.

“When exchange bidding is rolled out as a full-fledged product to people,” he said, “it will go quickly.”

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By Tobi Elkin, Media Post

Purch, a digital content and commerce firm, on Wednesday  announced a new server-to-server integration for video header bidding in partnership with Index Exchange. The integration aims to reduce latency issues to offer a better online experience for consumers, while also improving transparency and competition for both publishers and third-party exchanges.

While header bidding is known to reduce latency compared to the traditional tag-based waterfall, server-to-server integrations represent the next step in the evolution of bidding on inventory. Through the new integration, Purch can simultaneously auction banner and video ads with unlimited demand sources, without adding extra latency on the page.

“We’ve invested in building our own solution to connect to multiple exchanges via server-to-server connections, which we believe is inherently faster and leads to a better experience for our users,” John Potter, chief technology officer, Purch, told Real-Time Daily via email. “Through the Index Exchange partnership, we’re expecting a 30%-50% increase in yield.”

Potter added that most of the industry still relies heavily on a traditional header bidding approach, which runs on the client side and can affect site speed and performance. Server-to-server integrations enable multiple bids to be collected in the background without impacting a consumer’s online experience. Bid responses are also believed to be faster, resulting in more competition between bidders and higher revenue. With the new integration, “We’ve now taken this a step further, bringing this technology to video, an area of programmatic that is far behind display,” Potter said.

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