Will Email ever Get Invited to the Private Exchange?

If you follow the ad technology industry, you’re used to getting bombarded with new acronyms (RTB, DSP, SSP, ATD), compound adjectives (“Premium Programmatic”), au courant terms like “Native Advertising” and “Brand Safety.” Then there’s just plain jibberish that you can’t understand. It’s enough to make you want to cookie bomb your remnant inventory, if you know what I mean. Do you?

One of the latest semi-decipherable, kind-of-dirty sounding phrases in ad technology is “Private Exchange.” When asked, “why launch a private exchange?” one prominent ad industry executive said it was because, “(b)y launching this private exchange, we can work directly with our agency and media partners, offering them better pricing, more informed and targeted advertising buys, and the opportunity to deal directly with trusted and premium content sources.”

Basically what he said was “we allow you to sell ads to whomever you want.”

Couldn’t you sell that way already? Well not really. You could work directly with your trusted agency partners, but you would have to take them out to dinner, and after dinner your targeting precision would be slightly diminished. And sometimes the pricing wouldn’t be so optimized the next morning.

But as it turns out, the real reason that publishers choose Private Exchanges is to create the technological equivalent of a velvet rope. But in order for a velvet rope to work, there has to be something inside that worth standing outside in a line. That’s where premium content comes in. There’s got to be premium content on the inside, since that’s what the “demand” wants to hook up with.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the Private Exchange. The original premium content – email – ended up on the wrong end of the velvet rope. While thousands of pages of yesterday’s news ended up in the private exchanges – articles written weeks or months ago with supposedly long tails – the freshest and hottest content put together by the same editors couldn’t get in the private exchange club.

What’s the freshest and hottest content? Why, it’s email of course. It’s best consumed fresh. And the “push” nature of email makes it particularly good for high attention media like breaking news, the same content that begs the highest CPMs on any news or information site.

What is so striking about the inherent bias in private exchanges is that web display inventory is, by definition, anonymous. Other than targeting cookies, most visitors to most sites are, and will remain, unknown and anonymous to the sites they visit and the advertisers who reach them there.

Contrast that with the email subscriber audience of any publisher. There are the farthest thing from anonymous. Heck, you know their names. They are probably subscribers to your magazines and newspapers. You have them in your database.

But meanwhile, they’re stuck on the wrong side of the velvet rope, unable to get in to the private exchange club you’ve built to impress your best advertisers.

So, if you’re running a private exchange, and you want to make sure that you’re truly offering your advertisers your best content and audience targeting, don’t leave email outside on the curb. It deserves to be in the VIP lounge.

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