Most of you have probably heard of Supply Path Optimization (SPO), but what is Total Path Optimization?

In my first blog article, Demand-Side Platforms in 2020: Part 1, I mention the topic of Supply Path Optimization and how it is evolving in 2020:

“Supply path optimization” became a big topic last year but mostly focused on the manual whitelisting of exchanges by clients/buyers. In 2020 the phrase has expanded to describe a DSP’s suite of buying levers, bid shaving algorithms, throttling of duplicative bids, custom reports, and business deals designed to maximize media budgets by eliminating reselling and exposing hidden fees. Most major DSPs are now treating SPO as importantly as “brand safety” and are touting their specific approaches as value props.

Despite the increasing complexity of what is involved, the essential components of a strong SPO strategy are unchanged:

  • Vet your partners
  • Eliminate duplicative & unsound actors
  • Maximize your buying power
  • Achieve transparency
  • Reduce risk of fraud

In fact, these principles are not just important for supply side partners. The savvy advertiser should be applying these same tenets to all areas of their digital ecosystem. Every partner standing between the brand and their audience should be “optimized” to these same criteria: In other words, Total Path Optimization!

To illustrate this approach, let’s bucket the ad tech ecosystem into a handful of major categories. Each has their own nuances and issues, for which Matterkind has developed specific solutions and process.

  • Buying Partners (Agencies, Networks)
    • Problems: Duplicative buying drives up bids, violates frequency caps, and pollutes user experience. Some buyers use dirty tricks and/or loose interpretation of targeting briefs to improve their KPIs.
    • Our Solution: The Kinesso Audience Hub analyzes partner overlap across a media plan to increase efficiency. We encourage centralizing buying through Matterkind so that we can referee the targeting execution (self-service wherever possible) and ensure each partner is staying within their assigned swim lane of audience & inventory.
  • Demand Side Platforms (DSPs)
    • Problems: Navigating a crowded space with many complex offerings.
    • Our Solution: Biannual DSP scorecards benchmark user sentiment across the globe, as well as custom client-specific scorecards and bakeoffs to choose the right platform for each campaign.
  • Exchanges & SSPs
    • Problems: DSPs are plugged into 60+ exchanges, most offering exactly the same inventory. Each has their own fee structure and business practices.
    • Our Solution: A full-time, dedicated Marketplace team that focuses on Supply Path Optimization leveraging the full buying power of Matterkind and our agency partners. This includes exchange evaluation, custom bidding rules, and client-specific SPO strategy.
  • Data Partners
    • Problems: Rampant reselling, opaque and confusing naming conventions, and confidential/arcane methodology that often focuses on plumping up segment sizes to make them more attractive to naïve buyers.
    • Our Solution: Kinesso High Value Audiences are based on partnerships with Acxiom and other carefully-vetted providers. The ability to create our own data segments ensures that we know exactly what they contain and how they are modeled.
  • Publishers
    • Problems: Fraud and brand sensitivity.
    • Our Solution: A robust brand safety approach involving curated block and allow lists, 3rd party ad verification partnerships, and DSP targeting ensures maximum pre-bid filtering of undesirable impressions before they happen. Human monitoring of post-bid reporting catches any anomalies.

We continually refine our solutions to adapt to industry changes and work with the major partners in each category to drive evolution in a positive direction. We also work internally with our Kinesso partners to identify areas of automation and build additional tools to improve workflow and expand our client offerings.

Despite the continuing evolution of the addressable space, the concept of Total Path Optimization will always apply and is a helpful shorthand to refer to our collective efforts across the ecosystem.