Want Programmatic Transparency? Trust TrustX


Want Programmatic Transparency? Trust TrustX

Nicole Patton

Programmatic media offers advertisers the ability to target the right audience, in real time, through efficient modes of transaction. That’s why nearly 80% of US display advertising spend is projected to be served programmatically, and expected to reach nearly $33 million by the end of 2017 (Ad Week). However, the more dollars that shift to the programmatic ecosystem, the more eyes are on the challenges that exist. 

The open auction is a complex space when it comes to managing fraud, viewability, and brand safety. 100% transparency is required to understand where every dollar in an advertiser’s budget is going. To date, transparency has stopped at the supply side for advertisers, leaving questions as to where our media is running and where the dollars are really going. However, there’s a new SSP that is said to offer the transparency, brand safety, and guarantees that have been missing in Programmatic to date.

Enter TrustX

Not another X! Yes, while we were all getting excited about the consolidation happening in ad tech, a new player has entered on the supply side. But, TrustX has a unique differentiator—they only charge for 100% viewable and 100% human traffic. They also offer transparency into all fees paid along the supply chain, including the fee that they take off the top of the media.

Is 100% too good to be true?

TrustX offers an industry-changing programmatic advertising marketplace designed to match high-quality brands to premium content publishers with engaged audiences. These publishers include ESPN, Time Inc., Hearst, Conde Nast, Meredith, The Washington Post, along with 40 of their most premium friends. Owned by Digital Content Next, a non-profit publisher trade association, the company does not look to make a profit, and instead looks to minimize the fees being added on top of media costs.

What does this mean for competitors?

Historically advertisers have worked with as many SSPs as possible to increase scale, as well as efficiency. However, we’re learning that more isn’t always better. Header bidding commoditized access to supply, and most publishers continue to work with an average of around three to five SSPs. Now, advertisers can start to get picky, and SSPs should be nervous.

Sounds great, what’s the holdup?

Right now, it seems ad buyers are waiting on more publisher inventory to become available before they commit significant dollars to the platform. Publishers are waiting for buyers to make more bids before they offer more inventory to TrustX. Pubs themselves are potentially unmotivated to put too much inventory through the TrustX pipes given that they stand to lose revenue by not getting paid for non-viewable or fraudulent ads. Finally, we know that not all DSPs are integrated with TrustX yet, and today their inventory can only be purchased through MediaMath and DBM.

Our Take

The SSP space is becoming commoditized due to header bidding. Most impressions are available through multiple SSPs, meaning buyers have more power to choose who to buy from. We firmly believe that publishers shouldn’t be monetizing on ads that are non-viewable or are fraudulent, and advertisers shouldn’t be paying for a cent of it. SSPs are in the best position to provide a solution for this, as they are the ones that hold contracts with publishers. Not only does this help remediate on bad impressions, it also puts the onus back on publishers to clean up the inventory in the first place.

TrustX sets the new standard, pushing the industry in the right direction and beginning to set the bar higher for all other SSPs. In the short term, we do not see this eliminating all other SSPs, because publishers need to work with multiple in order to maximize yield and advertisers to maximize scale. However, advertisers will certainly be voting with their dollars, so it will be interesting to see which SSPs adopt similar guarantees. The sell-side of programmatic will continue to face these challenges, but an SSP built on a foundation of trust and transparency puts faith back in the advertiser that a clean and honest supply chain is in our future.

Nicole Patton

Nicole Patton

Programmatic Analyst

Nicole is a programmatic trader and media planner for Fortune 500 clients at Digitas Boston.


ADCOLOR FUTURES Class of 2017: Melanie Liu, Travis McPhee