MCN launches premium programmatic platform with PubMatic

By Rosie Baker | 25 March 2014

MCN believes it could double its programmatic business from 10 to 20% of its sales and has partnered with PubMatic to launch an automated sales channel that gives advertisers controlled access to premium digital inventory to drive it.

Cameron Dinnie, MCN digital pricing and analytics manager, said the new platform will give clients more control over the digital inventory they buy and where they place ads, helping to shift the perception that real time bidding and programmatic offer low value inventory.

“Programmatic has had a lot of press in the last two years as a sales channel that is associated with real time bidding (RTB) and cheap inventory. The PubMatic SSP allows us to have greater control over our inventory and make available premium digital assets to our agency partners in an automated channel. We’re selling a certain level of transparency over inventory,” he said.

“Real time bidding has been more about inventory than about transparency but buyers are willing to pay for transparency. There has been reluctance to make premium assets available for fear of CPM erosion.”

The platform will use MCN’s ID Targeting tool, powered by some pretty strong customer data, and targeted audience segments to enable clients to access inventory across private marketplaces and the trading exchange alongside direct campaigns. It goes live this week.

Real time bidding display ad spend is expected to reach $131 million in Australia this year, according to PubMatic. Other pundits rate it higher than that, with one player suggesting it will reach $500m by the middle of next year.

MCN is also bullish but Dinnie urged caution when making bold predictions. While some trading desks, such as IPG Mediabrands' Cadreon, have publicly outlined plans to trade half of their business programmatically by 2016, Dinnie said that the broader local market was likely to be closer to 25%, and that level was also dependent on what is defined as programmatic.

PubMatic is an interesting partner. It has been staffing up of late, poaching News Corp's head of commercial development Jason Barnes last month, and focuses purely on the sell-side rather than operating as the middle man for both buyers and sellers.

“We are thrilled to be working with MCN, they have a suite of respected premium brands that advertisers will be eager to access and they understand the benefits of optimising and managing their inventory in a real-time bidding environment," said Barnes. "Being a multi-channel company, MCN aligns well with PubMatic’s strengths across desktop and mobile and we look forward to working with their team to take the offering to market."

PubMatic president Kirk McDonald recently told AdNews that publishers can be the winners from programmatic if they make the necessary investment in the very strong data that they hold on audiences. All publishers had to do, he said, was invest in their data and then "use it to raise the price of impressions in the market".

That should be an easy sell, he said, but “some people who got here earlier made [publishers unsure]”.

He reckons those that clip both sides of the ticket and “traded on the ignorance of buyers and sellers” will be shaken out in a market facing consolidation.

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